Given that Conflux is apparently this weekend (yikes, where did the month go?), it seems portentous to have stumbled across this list of Hot Tips for Writers At Conferences…
Oops, Jason had already tweeted it! https://t.co/wEgwbhQXcK
— Apex Magazine (@apexmag) August 21, 2018
He also notes that "Despite this, NONE of the year's best anthologies selected the story for their volumes. I don't think I've ever seen such a glaring oversight by all the major year's best editors."
I do think the story was picked up by @paulaguran. So…one out of eight?
— Apex Magazine (@apexmag) August 21, 2018
A couple of years ago, I was at an Author Event listening to a Big Name Editor talk. Let’s refer to the editor as “You”, just to be confusing.
So. You are a big name SFF editor, who publishes well-known, well-regarded annual collections of the “best of” variety. You have won multiple Hugo and World Fantasy awards, to name just a few. You are, for the most part, visibly a member of some, but not all, of the most privileged groups in society.
What I remember most about You speaking is the way You mentioned, quite offhandedly, that You never do blind or slush submissions for anthologies any more. You feel You don’t “need” to, because You have been in the scene for decades and You know it and are an identified tastemaker. Instead, when You’re putting together an anthology, You approach the authors You want to include. They rarely say no. I mean, why would they? You’re You, after all.
Like I said, this was just one little throwaway comment in a bigger, much longer and far-reaching conversation. Yet every time I think about things like diversity in SFF, or inclusion, or slates or cliques or whatever the Outrage Du Jour happens to be… I think of You, and Your comment. Because, here’s the thing. Those authors You include? The ones You choose to represent as the “best of” Your industry? These authors are, almost exclusively, already well-established big names. They’re also almost exclusively like You, demographically speaking.
Incidentally, I don’t read Your anthologies. After all, they’re always filled with the same handful of authors writing the same handful of stories. And they just aren’t my thing.
Funny, I guess. The way that goes.
Okay, like. So I thought authors whinging about specific negative reviews on social media was The Worst but, no. Apparently publishers doing it is. And this wasn’t like a small press type publisher, either; it was from the account of a major big 5 imprint.
I just… publishers. Don’t do that. Don’t let your media people do that.
So as mentioned previously, last Wednesday I was on a panel at our local SFF writer’s group, talking about author platforms along with co-panellists Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Chris Andrews. It wasn’t a super-formal panel, and I didn’t take notes, but I’m sure some of the discussion will be of interest to some people, so I’ve done my best to recap the salient points below…
Literary fiction was, in all seriousness, established by the CIA during the Cold War—it belongs to the state. As such, an independent press with no ties to the state should inherently not be interested in “literary fiction.” Semantically!
M Kitchell on… conspiracies?
I think this is straight-up my new favorite “literary versus genre” argument.
[Publishing] is a ‘transactional’ environment – sometimes it feels like other writers only want to know what you can do for them. In that sense it reminds me of my days in Foreign Affairs, where I was surrounded by diplomats who wanted to know what aristocratic school you went to, who you knew in the diplomatic or political elite, and whether you could help them get posted to New York.
In publishing, people want to know if you went to Clarion, if you know any famous authors who can give them a book blurb, and whether you can recommend them to a New York agent.
I’m 0/6, if you’re wondering.
Which is to say: when you find someone who gives a shit about your writing, no strings attached, treat them well. They are a rare beast indeed.
T. R. Napper gives advice.
I admit that the “hustle” is my least favorite part of publishing. Partly because I’m not good at it—being Australia, being a woman, being extremely shy—partly because I morally and economically object to it,1 but mostly because I really, really don’t like being on the receiving end of it, and like even less the idea that people might think I’m trying to do it to them. Which has the bummer side-effect of meaning I tend to avoid approaching writers whose work I do like, because of the fear of being seen as That Person.
Thing is, though? The Hustle works. That’s the depressing part. So it’d be nice to think there’s a happy medium between being That Person and being, er. Well. Me. Haven’t quite found it yet, though, so it’s a work in progress.
Which, y’know. Is maybe kinda the point…
- In the same way I object to all “gig economy” nonsense, although that’s a rant for another time. [↩]
I was asked a question on a panel once that was something along the lines of what advice I’d give to aspiring authors. My answer was that they should let go of the idea that everyone should “like” their writing.1 “Heaps of people hate Stephen King, whose stuff I love,” I said, “and love JK Rowling, whose stuff I can’t stand. And no-one at all defends Dan Brown, yet he still manages to be a bestseller!”
Having said that, a week or so later, I read this.
Incidentally, I think “not very clever media designed to make men feel they’re very clever” is probably a genre in-and-of-itself. And a lucrative one at that…
- I stand by this. It’s anecdotal, but still one of the biggest dividers I’ve found between novelists who’re successfully published and those who, uh, will probably never be. The former tend to understand things like audiences, markets, and YKINMKATOK. The latter, no so much… and often like to make sweeping generalizations about the “universality” of certain subjective plot lines, tropes, and authors while they’re at it. [↩]