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June 22nd, 2004

The Lessons of Career Positioning: Part 1: Publishing [Jun. 22nd, 2004|12:32 pm]
I've been asked to do a panel on career publishing, possibly for Philcon later this year and I'll be thinking about this for a number of days, as I construct my argument. It seems the failure of many new (and current) authors to progress any further in their career, through the simple reason of bad decisions on the basis of god-knows-what. Just because publishing opportunities abound all over the place is not a reason to accept every offer that comes your way. Smart informed decisions go a long way in establishing a career. As a publisher and editor, I come across plenty of cover letters and submissions on a daily basis and there's plenty to scare me off, without wasting my time further on reading the submission itself. Variables that cause me to run proposals through a shredder and then burn the remains:

Ebook or online publication: dudes, unless this website or online publication is paying top dollar (Datlow's scifiction site) or is well-respected through its genre (Fantastic Metropolis), 99% of the rest is worthless. I will pretty much trash your proposal sight unseen if I see a long list of publication credits to such venues.

Vanity published titles: If I see Iuniverse, PublishAmerica, or a scad of other vanity-publishing services on your cover letter, your proposal is going on an one-way ticket straight to hell. Professional publishers and editors know full-well about these services and we know to avoid the majority like the plague. If your book is that damn good you should have had the brains to come to a reputable publisher first. If you didn't, then I don't want to waste time dealing with you, as you've already damaged your marketing position.

Small press: Be selective. Don't accept every offer. What does it do for you? How does this help your career along? Are you doing this just to stroke your . . . well, you know. Small press publishers pop up like mushrooms daily—and vanish just as quickly. Study their website, their business plan, their marketing. Listen to the ground for rumors, for talk, for gossip. Are they getting reviews in places where it matters? Do they have distribution? Do they have your best interests at heart? [we really don't; we're here to rape you for all it's worth. Don't listen to anyone else who says otherwise]

And tomorrow we'll talk about formats: novels, collections, anthologies.

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