Editorial confidentiality: a public statement

by Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg

Recently, an editor outed a pseudonymous writer using the writer’s private information available to him as an editor/publisher. The editor in question later claimed that he received permission from the author in question. The author in question has not, to our knowledge, made a public statement either confirming or denying that permission was given.*

Editors and publishers often have access to their submitters’ legal information, and more – the submitters’ wallet name, address, phone, etc. This one-directional access creates a power imbalance between editors and authors; trust in editorial discretion is necessary for submitters – all submitters, but especially those who may fear violence or other reprisals – to be able to work in this field.

As editors of Stone Telling magazine, we, Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg, believe that when editors publicly disclose such information, it erodes trust between editors and writers, and creates an atmosphere of suspicion and fear in the community. Even when permission is given, if a formerly pseudonymous author desires to make legal and other information publicly available, it is best done by someone other than an editor.

Certain information may need to be shared when disciplinary action is at stake, e.g. by conventions or legal authorities, but we feel that a public outing of writers by editors/publishers is problematic even in these cases.

As editors of Stone Telling magazine, we, Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg, pledge never to publicly reveal confidential information disclosed to us by submitters – this includes people whose work we choose to publish, and people whose work we choose not to publish. We have, previously, published work by pseudonymous authors while keeping strict confidentiality, and will continue to do so.

As an editor of An Alphabet of Embers and other anthologies, and as an editor of any future projects in fiction and poetry, I, Rose Lemberg, pledge never to publicly reveal confidential information disclosed to me by submitters – this includes people whose work I will choose to publish, and people whose work I will choose not to publish.

We call other editors in genre to join us in this pledge.

ETA from Shweta. How the specific author feels about being outed in this particular case is irrelevant to our post, because the bigger issue is editorial confidentiality/ethics, and we have been in contact with multiple authors who are frightened by this situation.

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* This entry is strictly about editorial process. Comments about the situation alluded in the first paragraph, as well as about specific personalities involved, will not be allowed to pass moderation.

9 Comments

  1. Likhain says:

    Thank you for this.

  2. Bogi Takács says:

    As someone who’s recently joined the Stone Telling team (though not as an editor) and sees the inbox, I co-sign. This applies to all future projects I might be involved in, both related to Stone Telling and otherwise.

  3. Rose Fox says:

    Co-signed for all my future freelance editorial projects–not just anthologies, if I edit any anthologies in the future, but also manuscript editing for self-published authors. I have had pseudonymous clients and would not dream of revealing their legal names.

  4. Kate Elliott says:

    Thank you for writing this. As you know, I write under a pen name that I was required to keep totally under wraps for the first couple of years as I relaunched my career.

  5. An emphatic yes and eager co-signing on behalf of Lackington’s Magazine (which accepts/buys work without even asking for real names because reasons).

    Nivver navver, people.

  6. Saira Ali says:

    Co-signed as well. I have one antho in production and hope to launch a zine next spring, and I also will stand by this pledge.

  7. As an editor and beta reader for many people, some of them pseudonymous, I will never reveal anyone’s private information unless compelled to do so by relevant law.

  8. Nin Harris says:

    Co-signed for all past, present and future publications of mine. I take the confidentiality and privacy of all of my authors past, present and future, very seriously. Thanks for putting this together.

  9. Dash says:

    Arriving late to the “party” here (literally just found out about this today):

    Thank you for this post. As editor of Expanded Horizons magazine, and in my work in any future projects I may be involved in, I co-sign your pledge.

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About

Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Tiptree, Elgin, Rhysling, and Crawford awards.

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