Traditional publishing

Day 11. 74 pages, 36, 906 words.

Right. After both of my steadfast readers / blog companions, Mr. BRKN and Mr. dreameling, encouraged me to dust off my 15-year-old submissions-to-dinosaur-publishers policy and once again look at the possibilities of traditional (aka. dependent) publication, I thought fine, maybe they have a point.

After all, these days I’ve written a series of eight novels, an autobiography, a children’s book and have a novella anthology and another novel in the works. I’ve come along a bit since 2001.

So, since I know nothing about publishers or submitting manuscripts, I’ve decided on this approach. First, as a preliminary starting point, I just grabbed a bunch of publisher names from the Hugo Awards short-list and went to their websites.

I will also look into the possibility of just meeting with actual publishers here in Finland, since they might have a more personal approach to local authors. As Mr. BRKN says, I should just show them my success so far, completely independent of their help and with essentially zero marketing, and ask them what they can do for me. I don’t actually need them.

In case the above paragraph didn’t give you the hint, there is a chip on my shoulder that would be visible from space if it weren’t a metaphor. I have a terrible attitude and sense of self-worth. I’m just throwing all this out for consideration and for me to come back to, but for the moment I’m aggressively uninterested in ‘submitting’, in any sense.

A lot of my attitude below is about the whole “agent” thing, I consider them … well, I won’t go into detail, since I may want to pursue representation at a later date, but for now I’m fine.

Still, nothing to really lose here:

Tor Books

Tor seems to want writing mostly in length and genre formats I’m not interested in, and they’re almost entirely closed for submissions. Sorry Tor, but looks like you miss out (why yes, I do have an inflated sense of my own value!).

However, they do have some sort of submissions deal through Macmillan, which is confusing but okay. This seems to be print-and-post, so I might give that a try.

They get extra points for this: “Don’t send jewelry, food, toys, 3-dimensional representations of anything, or anything that might be construed as a bribe. Over the years, we’ve seen all of the following and more: handmade bracelets and earrings, anatomical models, home-baked cookies, fine fabrics, fancy bookmarks, cocoanuts, fancy manuscript boxes . . ..None of this has any impact on our consideration of your work. The work has to sink or swim on its own merits.” I like a company with a human touch. There were precious few of them to be seen in this morning of surfing.

Pan Macmillan (India)

It’s possible that these guys may accept unsolicited submissions. However, “At Pan Macmillan India we accept manuscripts that have a strong connection to India or the Indian subcontinent.” So *raspberry*.

Pan Macmillan (Australia)

The Australian branch does Manuscript Monday which could be a laugh. “Between 10am and 4pm Australian Eastern Standard Time” for Monday the 1st of May / Monday the 5th of June is 3am to 9am Helsinki time. Which is tough. Shit, it was tough just working out the time difference.

Titan Books

“The majority of our fiction titles are licensed from overseas publishers or acquired through agents.

“At present, we are not looking for any general fiction submissions, (ie novels or short stories) and, in particular, we do not require ideas or manuscripts for children’s books. We are interested to hear from writers who would be interested in working on licensed fiction we have already contracted.”

Yeah, no, my stuff’s better and I’ve just decided you can’t have it.

Solaris Books

These guys had a contact form, but they don’t take unsolicited submissions and only open their doors to submissions at certain times. This was more effort than they were worth, so they’re fired.

Orbit Books

These also require me to have a middleman. Sorry, I grow weed, I don’t give it to sleazeballs for them to sell on in plastic baggies. Fired.

Hodder & Stoughton

Don’t take unsolicited manuscripts, their loss.

Harper Collins

Don’t take unsolicited manuscripts, aside from these guys. They have a pretty relaxed submissions policy but “visionary fiction” is a hard sell. I guess some of my stuff might work? This is at least semi-promising so I’ll add them to my own little short-list.

They call 60,000 words a manuscript, though. That is not a big book. Part one (of three) of my current book is going to be 60,000 words. Effortlessly. Oh well, let’s see.

Harper Voyager US (I went with Harper Voyager UK)

According to their website, they opened submissions for a sort of contest back in 2012 and the whole thing seemed insanely dodgy, with no discussion of payment and no real follow-ups, the whole thing looked like it went nowhere.

Not interested. When a company says “opportunity”, I read “opportunity for us to take advantage of you.”

Del Rey

Don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Fuck ‘em.

Picador

Don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Fuck these guys too.


Now, there are a few additional possibilities for shorter submissions:

Tor.com

(same as Tor Books, above)

Apex Magazine

This might be feasible. Will look at submitting a 7,500-worder to these guys as soon as I dig something up.

These formatting guidelines will be useful for most of my submissions, I’m guessing. The same link cropped up in a bunch of these pages, so it’s at least semi-standardised.

Uncanny Magazine

Well, “Uncanny Magazine is currently CLOSED to short story and poetry submissions.” Screw you then. Sorry.

Clarkesworld Magazine

Now these guys look promising and look like they know their stuff, they also have a useful what-not-to-do list and a decent handle on things.

They’ve also just turned 10 so I don’t think I’ve dealt with them before (yes, I’m old). Their submissions are max. 16,000 words so I will have to have a think about what to submit.


So, in conclusion, I have the following possibilities:

  • Tor Books / Macmillan’s printed submission
  • Pan Macmillan Australia’s Manuscript Monday
  • HarperLegend’s visionary fiction
  • Apex Magazine’s 7,500-worder
  • Clarkesworld Magazine

Oh yeah, go big or go home, is my motto.

Now, I’m going home.

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11 Responses to Traditional publishing

  1. stchucky says:

    dreameling couldn’t be arsed to comment but he did WhatsApp me this link which is basically a blog post like this one but with way more effort put in, so that’s cool.

    https://crhodges.wordpress.com/for-writers/science-fiction-and-fantasy-short-story-markets/

    • stchucky says:

      And I know, I only posted this like an hour ago and he didn’t get a chance to comment properly yet. IF YOU CAN WHATSAPP YOU CAN WORDPRESS.

      • dreameling says:

        I didn’t see the email notification!

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, you’re fine. Thanks for the pointer too.

        I guess there’s still a debate to be had about agents but at the moment I really am just happy where I am. I know it’s not a recipe for fame and fortune and wide readership, and I was bitching about that yesterday re: the Hugos, but … I am a lazy, lazy man.

        Most of my problem is that I don’t have much good short stuff. Most of my short stories are Creepy and Hatboy – admittedly the only thing I ever had accepted for magazine publication was a Creepy and Hatboy, and it is part of my urverse, but still – and once I get to my better stuff, it’s all novella length, 30,000 words or more.

        So I may have to put together some shorter stories and see how they go.

        Beyond that, it’s full novels and even they tend to come across as part of something larger (which, you know, they are), which is a hard sell.

        I think, now that I have one series out there and am just adding books to expand the urverse, it gets to be an easier sell … but still something that a traditional publisher will only allow from the Stephen Kings and George RR Martins of the world.

        It’s the classic “can’t get a job until you have work experience” paradox.

      • dreameling says:

        Well, now you sound more balanced again. You’re such a yo-yo sometimes.

        Bloody authors/artists.

  2. dreameling says:

    I applaud the effort. But holy crap do you need to work on your attitude. Because your current one absolutely will not help you, and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t help yourself. Simply acknowledging that you have an attitude means next to nothing.

    Let’s put it this way:

    If I was a representative of a big publisher, and I read the above post, my reply would be: “LOL. Fuck you, too.”

    And the only party who loses in that equation is you.

    The publisher doesn’t know you, and they don’t need you; they’ll continue to make money with the authors they have and the new ones that are eager to join them (and who have a good attitude about it, at least on the surface).

    But you’re an author, so you could always do with more readers. You may not technically need a publisher, as you can self-publish and make money there, but you could sure as hell use a publisher.

    Everybody’s in the business of making money. Publishers, agents, you. You’re not approaching publishers because you want to help them; you want to help you. Why would you expect anything different from them? Go in expecting what you know is true. [1]

    Consider this a friendly slap in the face.

    [1] Whoa. That’s actually kinda deep. Score for me.

    • stchucky says:

      I applaud the effort. But holy crap do you need to work on your attitude. Because your current one absolutely will not help you, and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t help yourself. Simply acknowledging that you have an attitude means next to nothing.

      True. Although I think admitting my bad attitude means nothing to anyone else. It means a lot in terms of my effort to correct said attitude – it means a lot to me. And I’m the important one here, because I’m the only one who’s going to adjust my attitude.

      You know, with help from my friends.

      If I was a representative of a big publisher, and I read the above post, my reply would be: “LOL. Fuck you, too.”

      And completely fair enough. I’m not going to rail against them (beyond my stated dismissal of their offering) for not taking unsolicited work. It absolutely makes sense given how much utter shit they get every single day. I got that from almost all of their website submissions pages.

      Still, in my case it’s definitely their loss, and I know almost every author says that and I don’t really care. So if they don’t take unsolicited material, they get a lazy “fuck you” and I go to a publisher that puts in the effort to find lesser-known authors not blessed with an agent. Because they will occasionally find a really good author.

      Don’t they deserve said author, if they have put a system in place to attract them?

      Yes, I do consider myself the buyer here.

      And the only party who loses in that equation is you.

      I lose? Because I’ve walked away from a faceless corporation that doesn’t value me, and thrown in my lot with potential faceless corporations that will at least let me put a foot on the bottom rung of the ladder?

      I lose, because I’m still writing books and selling them, and the publisher I walked away from is getting none of that?

      No. I value myself higher than that.

      The publisher doesn’t know you, and they don’t need you; they’ll continue to make money with the authors they have and the new ones that are eager to join them (and who have a good attitude about it, at least on the surface).

      You’re right. And this is how independent authors become dependent authors. And I think an awful lot of independent authors who say they want to avoid publishing houses are lying. Traditional publishing isn’t dying that fast. Anyone who says it is, is trying to sell you something.

      But you’re an author, so you could always do with more readers. You may not technically need a publisher, as you can self-publish and make money there, but you could sure as hell use a publisher.

      Like you say. For the editing services and marketing alone, it’s a huge benefit.

      Everybody’s in the business of making money. Publishers, agents, you. You’re not approaching publishers because you want to help them; you want to help you. Why would you expect anything different from them? Go in expecting what you know is true. [1]

      I want to help me, yes. I feel I deserve it.

      Beyond that, I want to get that help from a company I feel has earned my talents and my loyalty. Part of the reason I’m happy where I am is because Amazon and CreateSpace have treated me well – and they’ve barely done anything! If a traditional publisher can’t even compete with that…

      Look, I work full-time and have a heap on my plate outside office hours. You understand this better than most. If I was unemployed or living off some sort of literary grant from the government, I could put way more effort into this. But I’m not. I do this in my spare minutes, so I’m going to go with the options that make the most sense. And jumping through hoops and putting on a false show of admiration and eagerness just isn’t something I have the time and energy for. I’ll do what I can, but this is what I can do.

      Consider this a friendly slap in the face.

      I have a friendly, slappable face. It is known, khaleesi.

      [1] Whoa. That’s actually kinda deep. Score for me.

      You should do motivational speeches. And slaps.

      • dreameling says:

        Yes, I do consider myself the buyer here.

        As you should. And they also consider themselves the buyer, like they should.

        I lose? Because I’ve walked away from a faceless corporation that doesn’t value me, and thrown in my lot with potential faceless corporations that will at least let me put a foot on the bottom rung of the ladder?

        I lose, because I’m still writing books and selling them, and the publisher I walked away from is getting none of that?

        No. I value myself higher than that.

        You lose in terms of what you could potentially gain, in terms of income (if you make a good deal and if your books sell well) and skill (you will develop more with a professional editor than without one, especially if you land a good one) as well as just pure name recognition (simply making deal with a publisher will get you visibility).

        Sure, the publisher loses some in that they miss out on an author, but they have many authors. And unless you become the next Martin or Sanderson or Rothfuss, they’re not going to lose big.

        Look, I work full-time and have a heap on my plate outside office hours. You understand this better than most. If I was unemployed or living off some sort of literary grant from the government, I could put way more effort into this. But I’m not. I do this in my spare minutes, so I’m going to go with the options that make the most sense. And jumping through hoops and putting on a false show of admiration and eagerness just isn’t something I have the time and energy for. I’ll do what I can, but this is what I can do.

        I absolutely get that. I imagine most authors, including ones that publish through traditional channels, live like that. Few authors are full-time authors. But, again, if you want a wider readership and a bigger income from your books, not trying out traditional publishers seems like a missed opportunity.

        Also, I don’t think you need to suck up or grovel or do any of that stuff. If you do, then you’re probably dealing with the wrong party or person. Plus and also, that seems like a convenient prejudice to hold if you want an excuse to not approach traditional publishers. I’m sure most people working at publishing houses who are looking for new talent are OK people.

        But if you’re happy you’re happy.

        You should do motivational speeches. And slaps.

        I’ll stick with the slaps. I don’t do speeches.

      • stchucky says:

        You lose in terms of what you could potentially gain, in terms of income (if you make a good deal and if your books sell well) and skill (you will develop more with a professional editor than without one, especially if you land a good one) as well as just pure name recognition (simply making deal with a publisher will get you visibility).

        Sure, the publisher loses some in that they miss out on an author, but they have many authors. And unless you become the next Martin or Sanderson or Rothfuss, they’re not going to lose big.

        I disagree. By the same token, I have many publishers. If I am a small-time author with little potential remaining talent to gain, then the publisher and I both lose small. If I’m a big-time author, we both lose big. Either way, the idea that I am the only one who loses here is patently untrue.

        I absolutely get that. I imagine most authors, including ones that publish through traditional channels, live like that. Few authors are full-time authors. But, again, if you want a wider readership and a bigger income from your books, not trying out traditional publishers seems like a missed opportunity.

        Hey, I’m going to give them a try, even though you’re not exactly selling me on it here! You mean I’d still need to work another job full-time, and be a slave to publishing schedules and guidelines and editors? Fuck me.

        *grin*

        Also, I don’t think you need to suck up or grovel or do any of that stuff. If you do, then you’re probably dealing with the wrong party or person. Plus and also, that seems like a convenient prejudice to hold if you want an excuse to not approach traditional publishers. I’m sure most people working at publishing houses who are looking for new talent are OK people.

        You’re probably right. And this is what I need to be told. Thanks.

        But if you’re happy you’re happy.

        Well, I am. But I’ll still send out some feelers, because I think traditional publishers deserve the best. They’re a dying industry, you know.

  3. brknwntr says:

    In I treated in seeing you succeed because I’m a selfish prick of a fanboy and want to now famous people. Also, I consume a LOT of fiction, and yours is above average. You aren’t Sanderson, Tolkien, or Martin yet, but you are definitely on the level of Ringo, and Webb.

    However, while I agree with dreaming that big you want to pursue traditional publishing, a slightly less “fuck them” attitude is required. I’m heavily leaning on my own personal “fuck you” horn this week.

    • stchucky says:

      That took some analysis, but I appreciate the vote. And am doing my best to adjust my attitude which I think is mostly defensive offensiveness to cover my own laziness.

      As I mentioned to dreameling the other day in other media, I just started on a short story that with any luck will be acceptable length and style for some publication or other. Really want to get the next novel done first. Will consider whether to submit that or just publish it. I really don’t like the idea of publishers and editors messing with my story.

      In the category of agents, I wonder if just reaching out to them with a cover letter and a link to my Amazon page if they want to see my published work is the way to go?

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