Wednesday Wanderings 4

As the drop in activity at this blog should tell you, I’ve been rather busy lately. Civilian job and military job, both keeping me hopping. In fact, over the last 30 days I’ve spent time in three major cities, from the West Coast to the East Coast, and back to fly-over country again. Finding time to squeeze in blogging hasn’t been easy.

I did sign up for Publisher’s Marketplace, which is an up-to-the-hour smorgasbord of publishing industry news and information. At $20 a month it’s a bit pricey, but I’m gearing up to get my second novel out the door, prior to attending the 26th annual Writers of the Future workshop in Los Angeles at the end of this month. I needed Publisher’s Marketplace to give me additional editor names and addresses, beyond the collection of explicitly SF&F markets I already have. Unlike the last novel, this one is much more contemporary, and I hope much more amenable to mainstream fiction houses. Because the honest truth is, most of the publishing deals and money are happening outside the explicitly SF and F publishing realm. Which becomes readily obvious, once you scan the PM “deals” page, and observe all the action going on in romance, thriller, and paranormal. Oh, to be sure, lots of SF and F shows up in these genres, it’s just not labeled as such. Which is a whole other Oprah.

I ran across this interesting article, about the SF café-slash-ghetto. Lots to chew on in this article. Lots. I’m not even sure the article has a coherent, singular message, though I do like the comparisons between literarism and genre-ism. I’ve complained before that I suspect a big part of the reason why print SF is failing to reach a broad audience, is that the editors and many writers of the genre are falling headlong into High Literary obscurity — when all the real money and all the real action is going on in the world “outside” the ghetto, with video games and comic books and movies and media tie-in fiction. There is an ocean of money and a readers to be had, but too often SF seems content to just be a little exclusive yacht, coasting around that ocean’s perimeter. Occasional genre leviathans — like the Twighlight series — rise, and are roundly shunned by the yacht-goers. Which leads me back to thinking that the best thing for SF might be for it to dissolve into mainstream commercial fiction, before SF vanishes entirely into its own navel.

Writers of the Future launched a new web site, which is both handsome and takes advantage of many modern internet bells and whistles. Perhaps the biggest change of all is that the Contest now accepts electronic manuscripts, which makes it much easier for overseas entrants as well as the “kids” who wouldn’t know a paper manuscript if it came in over the transom and hit them in the head. I’m sorta glad I got to be one of the last WOTF winners to have won “on paper,” though I suspect the move to electronic is as much for administrative ease as it is a plus for 21st century aspirant techno-savvy writers. Poor Joni Labaqui can use every time-saving tool she can get her hands on. Not having to handle thousands of physical manuscripts every quarter should be — theoretically — a boon for her and K.D. Wentworth both. Time will tell.

Chunks of the Superstars writing seminar are up at YouTube, and I’ve been slowly browsing through them in my spare time. The Name authors on the panels are very substantial, if you’re at all familiar with SF and F, and I find a lot of their commentary confirms what I’ve already heard at the Lincoln City writing classes, in addition to general conversation with other writers at CONduit and LTUE. If you don’t have the time or money to attend, or have been curious but wanted to get a sample before attending, these videos are very good. I recommend them. It will be interesting to compare these, the Lincoln City workshops, and the Writers of the Future workshop. One thing that always becomes apparent: there are many perspectives and points of view in publishing, and it never hurts to get a second opinion. Or a third. Or a fourth. And so on. Because what works best for one writer, might not work for another — beyond a few very general rules of thumb that we all (more or less) follow.

Larry Correia is now in the pipe for like 7 novels thru Baen, and if that doesn’t make you smile… Well, what can I tell you? Larry is a working fiction writer’s inspiration because Larry refused to give up, and is now enjoying phenomenal success with a major SF publisher. Initially rejected by everyone and their dog, Larry self-published his Monster Hunter International, which eventually drew the interest of a major independent bookseller, who went to Toni Weisskopf and said, “Why aren’t you publishing this? I could sell it like crazy!” And it is selling like crazy. To the tune of a fourth printing in less than 18 months on the market, sequels, and an additional novel series, plus a now-revealed collaboration project with Baen stable stud John Ringo. Again, if this sort of success story doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. Congratulations, Larry!

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3 thoughts on “Wednesday Wanderings 4

  1. I haven’t yet read the linked article, but I’ve certainly seen the discussion about SF “vs” mainstream before, and the fact is that there’s a lot of stuff out there in the mainstream that would be SF if the publisher wanted to market it that way. (Of course, they don’t. If they can market it mainstream, that’s where the money is.)

    I just finished reading Douglas Preston’s latest, Impact, which is certainly sfnal in theme (ancient alien device on Mars, strangelets punching holes in the Earth) but is more conventional thriller in execution. If the formula sounds familiar, that’s because Michael Crichton built his career around it (Preston has been compared to Crichton, although I don’t think he’s quite there; Crichton did the science better.) It’s published by the Forge side of Tor/Forge; Tom Doherty’s no dummy.

    Heck, Dean Smith said my The Chara Talisman, set over a hundred years from now and with some space-opera elements, could go mainstream if it hit the right editor. (Although I figure it’ll be an easier sell to an SF editor, which is where it’s at now.)

    I’m certainly open to writing techo-thrillers with sfnal elements. It’s a genre I enjoy reading, and it’s a much larger market.

  2. Good points Al. I remember reading a lot of Dale Brown back in the day, and much of what he wrote as techo-thriller was just basically near-future SF, especially books like Day of the Cheetah which involved direct man-machine interface. Like you, I wouldn’t mind doing techno-thriller type fic. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of it, and consider it the more lucrative twin of military SF.

  3. Publisher’s Marketplace is useful, and addictive… I even made a cheat sheet of what the different deals mean 🙂

    Good luck with your novels. How’s the first one doing with responses? I’ve gotten a few positive rejections so far on mine.

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