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.
* 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.