In the time that I’ve been submitting short work to publishers the majority have either rejected a story outright or accepted it more or less ‘as is’.
My story ‘March Hays’ in Grey Matter Press’s new anthology ‘Death’s Realm’ went through a rigorous editing process which was hard work but very enjoyable. They worked with me to make the story better and we went through about three drafts. This was sometimes about language and grammar but more often about the mechanics of the story and ensuring its effect on the reader was what I intended. At no point did I feel that changes were being imposed upon me. 95% of the time they were right and the edits benefited the story. On the few occasions when I didn’t agree, it forced me to articulate what I was trying to do and if I couldn’t do that then I was probably clinging onto something that shouldn’t be there.
In the end I’ve still got the original version sitting on my computer and if I really thought it was better than what we’ve ended up with in the book I can still go back to it. But I actually don’t think that. The version in the book is better and benefited no end from having someone take a critical look at it and ask me to do rewrites.
Having worked in theatre, where the process of getting a piece of writing on stage is by necessity a collaborative effort between the writer and the director, actors, designer, lighting designer, stage management and so on, I’m happy with that level of input from a publisher. I feel a bit uncomfortable when it isn’t there to tell the truth.