Edith D. Wilson

Two decades ago, as an entry-level editorial assistant, I was asked to sign form rejection letters with the name “Edith D. Wilson.” Edith was a fictional creation whose name my then-employer used exclusively to reject manuscripts. When “rejected” writers sent angry mail, phoned or worse—visited the publisher’s office—the use of Edith’s name at the reception desk would alert all to draw the shades or reach for the security buzzer. The message was clear: Editors, and the publishers they work for, need to be as hard to get to as possible. Publishing authority and position demanded “reclusivity.” Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

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