Mood: Not Thrilled

Well, it rose up and bit me on the ass. I always hoped it wouldn’t.

I got a rejec­tion let­ter from an online mag­a­zine today. I’d sent one of my short sto­ries there. The rejec­tion isn’t the rea­son I’m a lit­tle upset, though; the rea­son* for the rejec­tion is.

Turns out that the edi­tor read­ing my lit­tle tale, as what I assume is a mat­ter of course, did a Google search on some rel­a­tive­ly unique terms in my man­u­script. He dis­cov­ered that the third search hit sure looked like my sto­ry, so he had a clos­er look. The link itself was dead; I know, because I tried it this morn­ing, right after I got the email. But o Dis­cor­dia! The wun­derkinden down at Google have got some­thing called the Google cache, and lo, when he clicked on the Cached link—I know, because it hap­pened when I clicked on the link—there was my sto­ry, whole and entire.

Now most online publications—most pub­li­ca­tions peri­od, actually—won’t pub­lish mate­r­i­al that has pre­vi­ous­ly appeared on the Inter­net. (In fact, ver­ba­tim from the rejec­tion let­ter, here’s the pol­i­cy of the ‘zine in ques­tion: I’m afraid we can’t con­sid­er sto­ries that have ever appeared online in pub­licly acces­si­ble (non-pass­word-pro­tect­ed) places.)

Where, you ask, was this page that was so devi­ous­ly cached? Why, it exist­ed on a writ­ers’ com­mu­ni­ty web­site, wide open for every­one to see. I did some research, and it turns out that block­ing Google (and all oth­er search engines) from caching pages is a mat­ter of adding a <meta> tag (a sim­ple mat­ter for any HTML-savvy per­son). I’ve con­tact­ed the board admin and laid out my prob­lem and my sug­ges­tion; that con­ver­sa­tion­al ball is in her court right now. (I want to say, too, that I’m not mad at her, or at the edi­tor of the ‘zine, or even at me. I’m not mad at any­one. I’m a lit­tle ticked about the sit­u­a­tion, is all.) Hope­ful­ly we can arrive at some res­o­lu­tion, so that this kind of thing doesn’t bite any­one else on the butt. The writ­ers’ com­mu­ni­ty in ques­tion is an amaz­ing­ly valu­able resource, and I’d sure hate to have that nig­gling ques­tion in the back of my mind any­time I ask some­one for assis­tance: am I hos­ing myself right now?

I think that’s all I meant to say on the top­ic. Thanks for let­tin’ me vent my spleen**.

The tree is down. My friend the B-man used my father-in-law’s chain­saw to chop it free of my fence. There’s sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle dam­age. So that’s good, any­ways.
* Well, the first stat­ed rea­son in the rejec­tion email. There were sto­ry prob­lems, too, but the edi­tor saw fit to men­tion the “pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished” thing first. Hope this doesn’t rep­re­sent a burnt bridge.

** Metaphor­i­cal­ly. One Inter­est­ing Thing™ about me that you prob­a­bly didn’t know is that I have no spleen. But that’s a sto­ry for anoth­er day. It’s late and I’m tired.

4 thoughts on “Mood: Not Thrilled

  1. That’s one of the rea­sons I gave up on WBBS. On For­ward Motion, most of the forums are mem­bers only, and the cri­t­igue cir­cles — except one — are pass­word pro­tect­ed for the par­tic­i­pants. And no one tells you to pay 15 bucks for get­ting a secure place to post your work. Yes, they ask for dona­tions, too, and that’s ok, but they don’t con­nect some­thing peo­ple do out of free will to any priv­i­leges.

  2. Hmmm, I know I have an ID on For­ward Motion, too. I’ve nev­er checked it out too deeply. Might have to.

    Aha, yes, my FM ID is pjo­han­neson.

  3. My sus­pi­cion is that it was just bad luck. It’d still be nice, though, if there were appro­pri­ate <meta> tags to pre­vent this sort of thing.

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