Posted in books, Publishing, writing

Reminder: Speculative Fiction Editors Interviewed at Clarkesworld Magazine

As promised, a reminder to go read Part 2 of “Long Before They Were Read: Speculative Fiction Book Editors Speak Out” by Jeremy L. C. Jones at Clarkesworld Magazine.

Slow openings, rushed endings, point of view shifts, gaps in logic, over-blown language, book editors see it all—even in manuscripts they’ve bought from masters in the field.  They also see manuscripts that need little or no work, manuscripts that make them jump up and down, and manuscripts stacked high enough to build bunkers with.

Some of it will not be news to anyone who has been writing for any length of time, but it really doesn’t hurt to hear it again. I will freely admit that reading these interviews has me almost frantic to go back and start revising my WIP, even though I’m still working on the first draft. I know some of the mistakes I make when I’m just working to get the words down. As I read back through (I know, breaking the cardinal rule of not revising while writing. But I love tinkering with words, it’s so hard to resist) I’ll immediately think of a better way to phrase something, leaving me with the immortal question, “What was I THINKING???”

Here are a couple of my problems that I know of right off the bat, but luckily are fairly easy to fix:

1. Commas. I overuse commas like nobody’s business. You’d think Macy’s had a sale on them.

2. Adverbs. I periodically run the “Find” function on “ly” just to see how many I’ve used and which ones need to go away. Sometimes I let them stay for awhile to try to prove themselves worthy, but a second pass through usually leads to a more liberal use of the ‘delete’ key.

Here’s an amusing response from Philip Athans at Wizards of the Coast to the question, “If you could rule the world of book publishing, what would you change?”

Athans: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the publishing business, really, that a top-to-bottom, exhaustive, total reorganization won’t fix. The number of things that happen in this business every day that are based on “well, we all know it’s stupid, but we’ve always done it that way,” would blow your mind.

Posted in books, Publishing, writing

More Editorial Chat

Clarkesworld Magazine is running a two-parter, “Dirty Hands and Invisible Words: Speculative Fiction Book Editors Speak Out,” with Part 1 appearing this month.

Now, even if you’re not a ‘spec fic’ writer there is some really interesting insight here into the goings on in publishing, how editors approach the process of publishing a book, who’s ‘hands-on’ and who’s not, their predictions on what the future of books and book buying might be. This round-up includes 14 editors, including Patrick Nielsen Hayden from Tor (who I always find interesting).

Lou Anders, editorial director at Pyr (sci-fi & fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books) had this to say regarding changes in the editor’s role:

Small trends that I see are the rise of the importance of trade paperbacks, the dwindling of hardcovers, the increased dominance of urban fantasy, the migration of classic science fiction out of the bookstore category and into both literary mainstream and teen category fiction, and the return of swords & sorcery and its infusion with epic fantasy.

Here’s the line-up of the editors interviewed:

Lou Anders is the editorial director of Pyr, a science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books.

Philip Athans has been a full-time staff editor at TSR, Inc. and Wizards of the Coast since 1995.

Victoria Blake is the publisher and founder of Underland Press, an independent specialty press.

Paula Guran is the editor of Juno Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books.

Gabrielle Harbowy is a freelance editor, and editor-in-charge at Dragon Moon Press.

James Lowder has worked as an editor for both large publishers and tiny independents, on projects that include New York Times bestselling shared world novels and small, critically acclaimed creator-owned titles.

John Jarrold has run three science fiction and fantasy imprints in the United Kingdom, worked as a freelance editor, and now runs the John Jarrold Literary Agency.

Susan J. Morris the Forgotten Realms® line editor at Wizards of the Coast.

Darren Nash is the editorial director at Orbit UK.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden edits books for Tor Books, among other publishers.

Chris Schluep is a Senior Editor at Ballantine/Villard/Del Rey.

Simon Spanton is the editorial director at Orion/Gollancz Books in the United Kingdom.

Deb Taber is the senior book editor of the Apex Book Company, an independent specialty press.

Jacob Weisman is the founding editor and publisher of Tachyon Publications, an independent specialty press.

All links should be active. Let me know if I hosed any of them up. The conclusion will appear in the August issue of Clarkesworld Magazine (don’t worry, I’ll remind you).

Posted in writing

SF Editors in Conversation at Clarkesworld Magazine

Eskimo Nebula
Eskimo Nebula

So we bounce from Romance to SF. This month’s Clarkesworld Magazine carries an interview with ten of the top spec fic editors: Patrick Nielsen Hayden from Tor Books and, Shawna McCarthy from Realms of Fantasy, John O’Neill from Black Gate magazine, Cat Rambo from Fantasy Magazine, Mike Resnick from Jim Baen’s Universe, Stanley Schmidt from Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Jason Sizemore of Apex Magazine, Gordon Van Gelder of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (my dream would be to be published by them), Sheila Williams from the venerable Asimov’s Science Fiction (I might as well hold out for the winning lottery ticket), and Ann VanderMeer from Weird Tales.

Gordon Van Gelder struck fear in my heart with this comment when asked what he looks for in a short story:

[Freshness] is often the hardest, as I see lots of stories that are skillfully rendered but in the end, they leave me feeling like I’ve read them before (or like they’re too similar to something I’ve read).

WAAAAAAAA!!! This is my nightmare. I feel like I need to read everything out there to avoid this.

This whole interview is a treasure trove of info for writers, whether you write science fiction, fantasy, or anything else. In response to the question for advice to people submitting fiction, McCarthy has this to say:

Don’t include money, candy, condoms, underwear, stamps, four leaf clovers, photos of yourself, photos of your cat or photos of your kids. We have gotten all of these at one time or another. Send it to the right address. Enclose an SASE. Neatness counts. So does spelling. Don’t copy someone else’s work. Sit up straight. Cover your mouth when you cough. Look both ways when you cross the street.

Nielsen Hayden is always amusing, when I’ve read interviews with him (which may only be one other time, but still…). His advice to same question as above:

Read something other than SF. Do something with your life other than struggling to sell SF stories. Sheila Williams, above, rightly recommends that you populate your stories. I’d say you should populate your life. Do some stuff that not all the other striving writers have done. Go out into the world and discover interesting things about how it works. Report back.

Or, alternately, live in a closet and eat cactus. Emily Dickinson barely ever left her room. It really doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s not about writers and editors, it’s about stories and readers.

They discuss what “fit” means for them, why they’d reject a good story, how the business has changed. Anyway, go read the rest of it, great stuff.