What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Back when I was submitting work traditionally (something I’ll have to do again soon with short stories, because it seems to be a worthy loss-leader) there was a category that didn’t make me seethe only because I didn’t know enough – wasn’t smart enough – for it to make me seethe.  The category was “For the Love.”

Now, I’m not saying that people running this category were dishonest, or actually doing anything wrong, other than being spectacularly inept business men and women.

We tried to do it with the category just above it, the “pays a ridiculously low amount” and we too were spectacularly bad at business, as well as trying to do it, as with just about everything we do, to be honest, in the spare time we don’t have.

The result was a one issue-magazine that crashed and burned.

In that we were only marginally worse than most of the “for the love”, “pays in copies” and “pays nominal amount” magazines.

They usually limp along for a year or three, being a financial drain on the editor’s resources and a wearing drain on his psyche, until the editor quits or dies.  Judging from what I went through in selling my very first story to sell – Thirst – this seems to happen in about equal amounts.  That story sold eight times before it saw the light of day in what was then a semi-prozine – Dreams of Decadence.  My joke was that it had killed four editors and four magazines.  I considered submitting it with “Stop me before I kill again”

But the truth is that it was neither an unusual nor a particularly strange history for a short story submitted at that level, which tells you how bad the chances are at that level.

I don’t know if they’re as bad now.  It’s almost free to put out a fanzine or even the next level.  You don’t really have to print it, unless you do it through Create Space.  You also don’t have to try to figure out distribution and find someone to carry your mag.  That’s now how it works – “I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh, Lord” – in the age of Amazon.

Not that I intend to submit to them when I start writing on-spec short stories again.  Why not?  Because I don’t need to.  I’ll send them to the pros, and if they don’t sell there, I’ll take my ball home and put them up with Goldport Press, individually or as a collection.  They’re not going to make me rich, but over time and by volume, I’ll end up making what I would have made out of selling it to the pros – or more.

So I’m not accusing the editors and publishers of the “For the Love” category of chicanery.  I was almost one of them except that I thought a sci fi magazine as unapologetically devoted to libertarian ideals as the old Campbell mags were could not, in good honest faith, pay our suppliers nothing.

I’m still not saying we were wonderful.  We had no business being in business knowing as little about the business as we did.  (Except of course, particularly in the old days, when research involved far more than google-foo, in these arcane fields, you often learned by doing.  Certainly I learned a lot as a writer from reading endless submissions.)

But we had no malice, and neither do – most.  You should see some of the rejections I got for stuff that went on to sell professionally later – “for the love” publishers.

And yet, they were/are a very bad thing.

Why?  Because they get you used to the idea that you’re doing this for the love; that love is its own reward for this kind of work; that there is no money in writing and you shouldn’t expect any.

Years later, in the annus horriblis of 2003, when not only did my career take a dive, but the real estate market seemed to take one along with it just as we were trying to sell a house, and paying on two mortgages, I was told just as much by two old writing friends, one of whom is a professional in the sense he lives from it and the other who used to: “There is no money in writing.  If you need the money find a real job, no matter how menial.”

I would have done it too, except at the time, I couldn’t.  We were barely making ends meet by having me do the heavy lifting on the home front, which at the time involved cooking from “extreme scratch” (mostly vegies and starches because they’re cheap,) refinishing/refurbishing all the furniture we needed, and do the “after school teaching of the boys.”  Also, because the boys were still in two widely apart schools, I spent a considerable portion of my time driving.  Unless I found a highly flexible employer – not normally a thing at any job I’m qualified for, from the menial to the academic – who’d let me work two hours a day whenever I had the time, I couldn’t find a job.

So I wrote.  Oh, look, I’m not going to brag of having made a ton of money, but my friend who did get a minimum wage part time job at the time (her obligations were a lot like mine) made about the same that year.  Ten thousand dollars.  Half of that was in short stories.  (Question, how many short stories do you need to write on spec to sell 5k of short stories on 300 or so a story?  Answer: don’t ask stupid questions.)  The other was in found money, as I sold audio rights to the first Shakespeare book.

And there was money in writing – albeit if I’d been paid by the hour, my payment would have made the angels cry.  But hey, because it was at home and done whenever, I could work a lot more hours than I would have at a “real job.”

Never mind that – I’m just indicating how pervasive that attitude was and is.  “There is no money in publishing.”

And then – if you’re traditionally published – you go to Manhattan (in my case because my husband went for a couple of weeks on business, and I used miles for a plane ticket and crashed in his hotel room.  I might be the only human being ever to go to NYC so I could isolate myself and write ten hours a day) and you visit your publisher’s office.

Look, Bub, I said above I’m not the world’s most keen businesswoman – or I wasn’t at the time.  As with other things that don’t come naturally, I’m learning – but I’m ninety nine percent sure that real estate in downtown Manhattan don’t come cheap, and neither – for that matter – do salaries for a bevy of employees, all of whom have not only salaries, but pensions.

And at some point, through the back of your mind, the words run “If there’s no money in publishing, how come…?”

I’m not going into funny statements (The ones I get on the not-Baen books are downright hilarious and we’re only waiting for my husband to get a week or so, to crunch the numbers and write a post for my blog telling you where the jokes are.  For instance, did you know that the house has developed quantum print runs?  No?  Ah!  Also, did you know that it’s possible to release the reserves against returns, then capture them again, after they’ve sold, [I have this image of representatives for the publishing house running after people who’ve bought the book and forcing them to return it, so they can reserve it.  Seems odd, but they must, right.  I mean, they wouldn’t lie to me, right?] so you don’t owe royalties?  True, that.) or into chicanery at that level.  I just want to analyze, at a straight forward, in your face level, the whole “There is no money in publishing, except for us!” statement – the same statement that the Writers’ Digest Poll that Amanda has been dissecting (sharper knives Amanda!  More microscopes) so successfully here.

I’m one of those awful believers in the free market, even when I’d much rather not be.  For instance, I throw my used underwear away, instead of donating it to a thrift store, unless I bought it in the wrong size and never wore it.  Why?  Because, ew, it has no monetary resale value, and donating it for them to sell would be a cruel joke.

Or take my advice to my kids when they were choosing their degrees (I could have sat on my hands, they both have true vocations, from which they won’t deviate with sledge hammers.  One of them, at least bids fair to make him a living) “Choose a course that will support you, because you and we will be paying for it.  And no, Classics is not likely to support you, even as a professor, because there’s more supply than demand.”  (What does it say about my kids that both of them would like to take Classics, at some point “for the love” – or at least audit the classes?)

So, if the big publishers are making money, enough to guarantee the largess of Manhattan salaries and the pensions that go with them, but there is no money in publishing, there must be a lot of “supply” in “can write a book professionally” right?

Right.  More supply than demand.

(And if you’re going to say they make it up in volume – waggles hand.  They’re TRYING to, mind you.  Mostly with books to which they have no rights, or by shennenigans like those in my statements which allow them to pay the very minimum so rights don’t revert.  This is in the age of ebooks, though.  Before that?  Not so much.)

This was true to an extent in the bad old days, simply because demand was kept artificially low.  All of us heard about the thousands upon thousands of manuscripts that came in for every one that was accepted.  In fact, getting in over the transom was so rare most of the houses closed down their slush piles, and went through agents, offloading that expense which brought little return.

This is because the houses could only accept x number of manuscripts a month.  Fewer if they were relatively small like Baen (this is not chicanery, again, but – as I found as a small press publisher – the brutal realities of having to absorb the up front costs when you need to print everything, store it somewhere, etc.)  But since Baen did not close the slush pile, and since friends and trusted confidants waded through it on a regular basis, I can tell you right now that most of the stuff “slushing” into the submissions was… Not just bad, but eye-searingly bad.

There were gems though – usually more than the publisher had room for, so that it became not just “am I good enough” but “do I fit with what the publisher is attuned to right now.”

The process seems to have given the really big publishers the idea that writers were widgets.  Heck, they said just as much.  Widgets.  Interchangeable units.  There was so much supply of good, competent, reasonable, literate writers, that the houses could afford to burn them out.  Two books, and if you’re not, by miracle, a bestseller, you’re out bucko, and don’t you come back no more.

Strangely, they might have been wrong, even with the artificially lowered space for publication in the old system.  The quality of their “finds” was getting increasingly lower – and they also started allowing “burned” writers to come back under closed pen names (so that you didn’t build a following at a guess, and they could keep paying you beginner advances – yeah, okay, so that’s my guess, but you give me one!) It’s possible they were burning through competent writers faster than they could be grown.

Then came indie…

This means the possibility for publishing yourself is… endless.  And for making money from it.

Which necessitates a whole lot of spinning on the part of the publishers and their allied industries, to justify “there is no money in writing.”  (Yes, you might sell fewer units indie, but when you get the biggest slice of the profit, you can also live from that.  Say you have a thousand true fans, and you make $4 of profit – you just got a standard advance these days.)

The first prediction was that the reading public would be turned off by a “tsunami of crap.”

We’re not 3? Years into widespread indie publishing and … I fail to see it.  Oh, there is more crap in certain fields – romance – than in others, because so many more people write it.  But, you know what?  My husband has been on a romance kick (yes, there’s a reason.  Yes, it’s research) and he has – whatever he’s reading at the time – the charming habit of waking me up in the middle of the night to read me the more ridiculous portions of whatever he’s reading, or of detailing to me in the shower just how stupid a plot is.

The indie part of romance is not in fact the worst offender in this – except in the typos and grammar-throttling categories.  And frankly, it’s not the worst offender in fantasy or science fiction or mystery either.

So, where did the tsunami of crap go?  Those piles and piles of manuscripts that infested the slush pile of every publisher?  Publishers didn’t make those up.  They were there.  I saw them with my own two eyes.  (Contrary to rumor, SF writers don’t have multiple eyes, nor are they faceted.)

I think they went two places: first, a lot of them were the same manuscripts.  They just got submitted everywhere.  (And don’t say “no one would send a children’s picture book about cats to Baen, say” – I will just ask my friends who read slush to testify.  Let’s say, yes, they did.  Written in crayon.  On butcher paper.)

Second, a lot of them got put up in the first rush of indie (those written by authors competent enough to actually navigate a computer, at least) and sold nothing, and the authors have either finally gone off to look for easier game, or are still waiting for the world to realize their genius.  A lot of those “slush books” are/were first and sole efforts by people who couldn’t/can’t understand it’s a craft, and expect to be great without any effort of learning how to do this.

So much for the tsunami of crap.  What was the publishers’ other prediction?

Well, remember the way they justified their big pay and the writers’ nominal one was that the writers were “interchangeable widgets.”  Pick a guy off the street and he might not write as well as Dan Brown (ah!) but he will write well enough to replace any midlister you’d care to name.

Leave aside the fact this is patently untrue (including the Dan Brown thing, where they might very well be able to.  At least if the street was full of pompous graduate students.)

How do the publishers reconcile the “writing is so easy anyone can do it, and there’s a line of people ready to replace you, so I won’t pay you anymore, bucko” with “writing is so difficult you need us to find the good stuff for you to read?”

Easy.  It’s those intangibles they give the writer, see?

It used to be true.  It did.  There used to be intangibles.  Like printing ahead and distribution.

But now?  Now they’re still shrilling, up there in their Manhattan towers, about distribution and dissemination (it’s not true, you know?  I mean, if you’re a newby, be aware it’s not true.  One year I had six books come out with two major NYC publishers.  They never made it to the shelves of any book store my friends and I could trace) and publicity (also not true.  They expect you to do it) and editing, and their “expert formatting.”

Brother!  If you believe all of that, you either don’t read traditionally published books, or you are the rawest Johnny raw to hit the publishing scene.  (I know a couple.  A very sad part of the indie thing is realizing some of my fledglings are stone-cold-dumb.)  And if you’ve been published before and you still believe that – not just say it.  BELIEVE it – you should consider treatment for brain-washing.

Look – most of my traditionally published books I got no editorial input whatsoever, and I wished I hadn’t got copy-editor input.  (Baen does give you editorial input.  I don’t always agree with it, and they don’t always catch everything, but someone reads and edits your book.  This is more than what happened for most of my non-Baen books.) And three of them I got input that wasn’t “refusable” and that I’m now having to clean up before I put them up.

Which brings us to – yeah, they’re not adding anything.

When reading indie books I come across stupid plotting mistakes (we’ll leave aside typos, which are just as thick in traditional) yeah.  But they’re the same mistakes I come across in newbies work in traditional.  They’re kinks you’ll grow out of the more you write.

And there is money in indie.  I have yet to hit that sort of jackpot – but then I’ve only “reprinted” stuff and the covers… we’re coming along, right? – but I have friends who have made thousands per book per year.  Yeah, it’s a lot less people reading it, but you make more money from it.  The money that used to go to pay for those Manhattan offices.

Which is why we’re getting furious spinning from the traditional establishment and its associated shills (yes, Writers’ Digest.  If they’re smart they’ll change to cater to indies.  There’s a lot of need.  But my bet is they’re not smart.)  And why “there is no money in writing” and “You need us to make anything” are getting claimed in increasingly louder and more insane tones, through campaigns of disinformation.

You see, that corner office is at risk.  And the pension is in doubt.  Writers, you see, are starting to doubt that they should do this “for the love.”  They’re starting to think that they – more than office-fillers and paper pushers in some giant edifice in Manhattan – are the skilled workers and that a worker is worthy of his hire.

That way lies ruin – for the massively top-heavy publishing houses in NYC.  And so they’re doing what they can to convince you that they’re absolutely necessary to you, even though, you know, there is no money in publishing.

That moisture down your neck?  It ain’t rain.

Who are you going to believe?  Their polls or your lying bank account?


46 thoughts on “What’s Love Got To Do With It?

  1. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works for me as I decided not to even bother with the traditional route to being published. I’m sending out short stories, but nothing to less than semi-pro pay. I’ve had a couple accepted, and will eventually collect all of the shorts for sale, as pricing them low enough to actually sell means I’m making almost no money on the indie shorts.

    1. I’m actually trying the opposite route, Cedar. I started out traditional and now and moving (oh so slowly) to indie, with a few notable exceptions. I think that an author who has any kind of following will make more money indie than traditional (unless they get very, very lucky… like winning the lottery lucky).

      1. We’ll have to compare notes every so often. I have a very long-term plan. be a Mad Scientist for the next, oh, twenty-thirty years, and then retire. By that time, I will have enough of a backlist, and following, to make it. *shrug* So we will see.

        1. My notes are easy to compare with. If I’m swearing a lot, then it’s going poorly. If I’m gloating, then it’s going well.

          I’m like an open book. Poorly written and horribly plotted, but open.

  2. As for love, for 14 years I published a cartoon/Illustration fanzine called, imaginatively enough, Gallery. It ran 51 issues. At its peak, I think I was moving 250-300 copies of an issue. The advantage I had was that I had built up a subscriber base, and had some mail-order zine retailers lined up, so I was actually able to pay for the contributor copies, postage, AND pay a royalty on each issue to the artists. All I took from it was two copies for my own library, and a little bit of fandom fame.

    I shut it down when it started to stagnate, and artists were moving to websites, where I couldn’t really compete. I mean, color and free and voluminous are hard to beat.

    Although, I still owe refunds to some of the subscribers, and royalties to some of the artists. A lot of them are impossible to track down at this point, but I have meticulous records. If I can find them, I’ll pay them.

  3. Wow. Your description of for-the-love / micro-pay magazines is almost exactly what happened to me when I tried it myself. Lasted about three years. Didn’t really get off the ground. Increasing drain on mental / emotional / financial resources…
    But we did publish some really good stories, I thought.

      1. My problem was that the second submission I ever read was Chris Doley’s _Resonance_. It gave me a insurmountable optimism, as to the likelihood of finding gems in there. I kept it up way to long, and totally burned out.

  4. For instance, I throw my used underwear away, instead of donating it to a thrift store, unless I bought it in the wrong size and never wore it. Why? Because, ew, it has no monetary resale value, and donating it for them to sell would be a cruel joke.

    Depends if they recycle it.

    I know our local goodwill doesn’t (because they have rag-bags– I haunt for craft stuff) but I know some places do because a family friend was a buyer.

    Inquire locally!

  5. Some books are written for the love. Calmer Half’s memoir, of a day in the life of a prison chaplain, was written for the catharsis, for the trying to get people to understand the oft-ignored and ill-understood consequences of our justice system.

    The regular publishers didn’t want it, because it didn’t portray the inhabitants of a max-security prison as “poor oppressed victims of society”, and it wasn’t apologetic about including that icky, nasty Christianity stuff. The “Christian” publishers didn’t want it because it wasn’t preachy enough, lacking fundamentalist bible-thumping, conversion scenes, or threats of brimstone, and didn’t whitewash the prisoners to look like regular, normal people on the street.

    It’s not doing nearly as well as the science fiction books we’ve indie-published, but you know what? It’s out there, no matter what the gatekeepers think the public should or shouldn’t see, and every now and then he gets a letter from a reader who really got their eyes opened. And if it keeps selling like it currently is, in about five years, it’ll make as much as a low-end advance… and then stay out there, still selling a copy here, a copy there.

    1. Oh, sure, there are books written for love, but you know what? Actually arguably if you don’t love this you’ll never write enough to get good at it. That doesn’t mean the publishers shouldn’t pay for it, or that “there is no money in publishing” should be your default accepted mode as a writer.

      1. I write for love. I rewrite, edit, polish, and publish for money. And if I didn’t have a reasonable expectation of gradually climbing sales, I’d do something else for money and have a lot less time to write. And rewrite, edit, polish . . .

  6. There were gems though – usually more than the publisher had room for, so that it became not just “am I good enough” but “do I fit with what the publisher is attuned to right now.”

    *nose twitches*

    Dang it, this would be such an opportunity in an honest business…. Have two categories for submissions:
    Paper and E-Book.
    Paper for the stuff you think will sell, and sell big.
    E-Book for the stuff you think is good, but that doesn’t exactly fit what you’re looking for. Make the imprint something like “Diamond In the Rough Draft.”

    This would be in the same world where you are delighted in electronic supply calculation, because it makes it easier to quickly and cheaply pay your obligations.

    1. Tisk, tisk, Foxfier, you’ve been visiting Colorado and Washington again, haven’t you? 😉 This makes sense, has a great deal of potential, and would benefit both publisher and writer. What are you thinking?!?

        1. The problem is having the publisher’s name associated with “E-pubbed only, lower quality books.” And finding the people and the time and money to fund it, even as a separate company.

            1. True. I’m out of date, remembering discussions on the Bar on the subject from years ago.

              I keep forgetting that now traditional publishers are adapting to ebooks. In their own self defeating way. More rights for them, fewer costs for them, more profits for them, less money for the writers. At this rate, they’ll have to reopen their slush piles, because their experienced writers will have flown the coop.

  7. “My husband has been on a romance kick (yes, there’s a reason. Yes, it’s research) and he has – whatever he’s reading at the time – the charming habit of waking me up in the middle of the night ”

    I read some romances as research a few years ago. It was because I wanted to check out how to handle a romance in the book I was working on. In search of a reasonable facsimile of Georgette Heyer I read a number of Jo Beverly’s books. Interesting. And some were quite good.

    1. yes — that’s exactly what he’s trying to figure out. He’s finishing his space opera revision and he wants to fix the romance so GIRLS get it.
      Mary Jo Putney is decent — but I skip a lot of sex scenes.

      1. Finished the…. *ears perk* Oh, do tell?
        Hmm… oh, still fixing… if he doesn’t have it pubbed by Libertycon, can I walk up to him, put a crumpled fiver in his hands, and say “put it up and take my money!”?

      2. Hah. And I’ve been worrying about male readers and romance.

        I figured that was what Dan was up to, but didn’t want to be overtly nosy. Just obviously nosy.

  8. I haven’t had as much time to comment lately but I’m still reading, so I just wanted to make sure you knew that I really liked this post and the other recent ones, too.

      1. Yes, just school!

        I’m taking “Grammar Nazi: The Advanced Course” this semester (otherwise known as ENG 441.)

        And math… again. And Petrology. But what is likely to kick my butt is a freshman level Excel class. 😉

        1. I found out that the kids’ college lets you audit for $30 per credit hour. As soon as I have time… I want to audit Greek and Latin, then stand for the national exam.
          Why? Well… because I want to!

  9. There are some hilariously awful scenes in romance. It’s probably why I like the genre so much. *grin*

    I submitted to a For The Love magazine a few (10?) years ago. Got some great feedback but ultimately didn’t sell the story. Life happened and I stepped away from writing for a while. A couple years ago, I was asked by the editor that rejected it where I’d ended up selling it. When I told him I hadn’t, he suggested I look into KDP, which I’d been doing but hadn’t considered putting up any short stories and my longer pieces weren’t quite right and…

    The next year, I told him it was up and watched as he purchased it in the kindle app on his smartphone. It’s a bit of an odd duck of a story and wouldn’t have really sold anywhere but it has sold a few copies here and there, making me more money than it would have in that magazine.

  10. Slightly off-topic for this post, but…. Anyone here follow Girl Genius?

    Well, the authors were tempted to go the other way in publishing: they were self-publishing the various books, then they signed a contract with TOR to publish an omnibus edition of the first three volumes in the series. The result? A Tale of Two TORS. Be Warned, I’m Annoyed:

    You see, TOR was thinking about starting up a line of science fiction graphic novels, and told us that they thought having a multiple Hugo Award winner as the launch title would be a nice touch.

    We agreed, but had reservations, as we had been selling Girl Genius for over ten years at this point, and didn’t want them to be disappointed. We told them how many copies we’d sold, and they sat back, chuckling knowingly, and assured us that our entire sales history would be a nice warm up for their edition[…]

    So then we asked when the paperback edition would come out, so we could promote that. Soon, we were told, first they wanted to assess the sales on the hardcover, so they could get an idea (based no doubt on some secret mega-publisher mystery math) on how high they should set the print run. Okay…so when do you want us to get you the files for the second omnibus? Because at that point, we could have had three of them out the door in as many months, and any noob to publishing can tell you that the way to build sales on a series is to keep the books coming.


    Apparently, no one at the publisher’s has experience with graphic novel—and they’re not taking pointers from the Foglios either—and so the authors ask for the rights back, saying, “You don’t want the series. You can’t sell it. We’ll even buy the remainder sitting in your warehouse.” Silence. And the non-compete clause means they can’t even sell omnibus editions of the rest of the series.

    The only conclusion I can come to, is that Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden has decided that he can ignore us. Eventually, we, like many other confusing things that he cannot make money from, will go away. It may take five years, but really, who cares?

    1. For those of us who lean toward the control-freak end of the spectrum, the decision to go indie makes more and more sense.

    2. A local author here has had a book purchased bu TOR but will be unpublished for 5 years. Five years to sit around with his thumb up his… you know what… not knowing if the novel is going to go over with readers, not knowing if he should move on, not knowing if he should write several more in the same world as he waits, not knowing anything at all.

      TOR was also the house with the sex harasser that every one knew about but stayed on the job for years until recently when it got so public they had to fire him and then the rest of us have to put up with being called sexist and unwelcoming to women. Yes? Am I remembering that wrong?

      1. He should keep writing, start putting stuff up indie, and then his Tor book can help him sell what he’s got up on Amazon when it comes out. He’d likely make more money that way.

        ps-did you finish that alien abduction snippet?

        1. I got really freaked out there for a minute because I couldn’t think of any alien abduction story I was writing, but you’re talking about that thing when Chris went missing, no? I was just hoping to get other people to write the next part, and next, and so-on… until we met up with Chris where ever the aliens had taken him. But I wasn’t clear enough about that…

          1. I know. I eventually got that, but I really liked what you started and was kind of trying to nudge you. [winsome smile]

        2. My thought was definitely that he ought to write the next and the next – hopefully he didn’t sign a non-compete thing that stopped him from publishing sequels – because when they get the first actually published, even if they don’t want to buy any additional ones, he could self-publish a whole world.

          If he’s open to that I’ve never heard him say. We’re not close enough to have a frank conversation about something like that, and who am I to tell him so anyway? I might be right, but I lack the street cred.

      1. Brad Torgersen said it best so far, I think:

        But here on Earth, we’ve got what we’ve got. Male, or female. 99.999% of us arrived that way, and 99.999% of us will die that way. Even those who change it up, and undergo gender reassignment. The objective of the surgery and the therapy is not to invent a third gender, it is to merely swap hood ornamentation.

        So why must science fiction end the [default] use of binary gender?

        (Emphasis in the original. I’ve added the word “default” for clarity; that’s what the kerfuffle is all about, and Brad is clear on that bit in the rest of the essay.)

      2. Re. the Foglios, Tor Books said (link):

        We’d like to thank all the Foglios’ fans for making their wishes known. We’re looking into what happened, and how the situation can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

        Apparently also Patrick N-H is not the editor-in-chief and is not actually responsible for the (unnamed) editor who actually ignored the Foglios for a year; he is understandably upset at being made out as the bad guy.

        (On the other hand, a day’s worth of email, Twitter, & Facebook badgering by fans to Tor Books and PNH did achieve an actual response from real live people; it’s hard to argue with a successful tactic.)

  11. As one of the few writers I know of, who, un-agented, with no prior sales, made it up out of the slush (and had nearly done it twice before, once the editor told me it was in the final pile, and sent the manuscript to his boss – who lost it, and didn’t have testicular fortitude to admit this, until I wrote back saying I was a poor author in an African country who had sent them a return-paid envelope, and getting it printed was hard (which as all true) and could I have it back please, and once when I got an angry-not with me- impassioned letter from the editor saying her board wouldn’t let her buy it, but she loved it, thought was like wizard of Oz all over again. I guess fantasy had avoided her 🙂 ). I also know I got back manuscripts where the cover page (name, address, book title) had never been lifted, just return of post. There has to be a better system, and if that is letting the public wade and decide, good.

    1. Yep. I got a manuscript returned by express on a Saturday morning. I had to sign for it. Inside was a three page letter telling me the under-editor loved the book but the over-editor wouldn’t let him buy it. Since they were a couple…

    2. When are you going to get Wild and Rolling Lands out there? I loved that story.

      I suppose retyping it is a mission and a half though….

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