Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Information about publishers of GLBT fiction.

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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:57

carrietierney wrote:
HH wrote:Carrie, you've mentioned that you have a weakness for speculative fiction. Are there any subgenres that you prefer, or would like to see more submissions of? Say, sword and sorcery, or science fantasy, or dystopias, etc?


Actually all of the above. No one one the staff is interested in horror, which is also spec fic. Supernatural--really depends on the story. But all aspects of fantasy, science fantasy, and science fiction we like. Like I said, it happens to be what we all read for pleasure.

We're also into women's sports. I just took time away from the computer to watch the women's basketball teams, Maryland beat Duke. We're women's basketball junkies, in case anyone has a basketball story.;)
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:57

carrietierney wrote:
Primarily, I think, because an acceptance from a credible market is a statement on the writing quality. It's hard to judge one's own writing, and while critique groups are helpful, even essential, in the end the only people who will decide whether your work is publishable or not are the editors. Acceptances mean I'm doing it right. Barrelloads of form rejections mean I'm not.


One of my favorite stories -- Several years ago Jane Yolan was interviewed and one of the questions was something like, "what can you tell beginning writers to help them handle rejection?" Jane Yolan said, "I just got a rejection a week ago."

I like this because it hammers home a point that I always seem to be making. Magazines don't accept authors, publishers don't sign authors. Magazines accept stories, publishers sign books.

I'll tell you another story, because even I thought I had lost my mind when I did this. We got a submission for Khimairal Ink from Brenda Cooper. Now she has collaborated with Larry Niven on stories published in Asimov's and Analog and a novel published by Tor. On her own, she has stories in Analog and Strange Horizons and many other publications and has a novel published by Tor with a new one coming out very soon. Her writing credits could metaphorically eat us for lunch.

So what do I do? I ask for a rewrite. The exposition just rambled on too long. The reaction I was half expecting was not the reaction I got. But I should have learned by now that professionals are on the whole very gracious and a joy to work with. A couple weeks later I received a rewrite. She apologized for taking so long but she was on vacation. She said to let her know if the rewrite was satisfactory and she'd be happy to work on it some more. All this, for an ezine that pays a whomping $5.00. The point is, we found a flaw in the story and it didn't matter who the author was. We weren't going to accept it as is, because we knew it could be better.

Second, I suppose, because I want to share my stories with readers -- hopefully to entertain, to inform, to make them think.


Good reason.

But I'm a hobby writer. I don't see myself turning it into a career. If I did, then I suppose exposure, readership, and money would be much more crucial. No one depends on my short story sales to put food on the table, but if writing were an important portion of my income then cents-per-word would be my first criterion.


To increase the cents-per-word you'd have to move out of the lesbian market to tap into the pro markets. But you don't have to move completely out of it. Spec fic is very open to stories with alternate sexualities. One of our Khimairal Ink authors, Amy Sisson has a story with a lesbian theme in Strange Horizons.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:57

carrietierney wrote:
carrietierney wrote:And what approach are you taking to work on your craft? Workshops, critiques, reading books on writing . . .?


All of the above. I took three on-line courses last year, four workshops, and various books on writing. Critiques by three people, one a professional editor. :dunno: :dunno: :dunno: I think my subject matter has a bit to do with the problem, (not the whole problem) but it's about domestic violence.


That's the other variable in this whole publishing thing. Publishing is a business, as much as we wish it could be something more altruistic. Unfortunately, marketability is almost more important than quality -- the Harry Potter books are good examples of that. Although much of the problem with the poor quality of those books has to do with having to write under extreme pressure.

Small publishers are more incline to publish books with subjects that are considered a hard sell or appeal to a smaller readership. The trick is finding the publisher open to the particular subject of your book.

It also depends on the degree a subject dominates the book and the light in which the subject is presented.

One more thing I'd like to add. Books are about characters, not subjects. If your protagonist is appealing enough to a reader then the subject is secondary to how your protagonist handles it.

A book isn't about a subject, it's about how the protagonist deals with the subject.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:58

carrietierney wrote:
HH wrote:
carrietierney wrote:We try to market to the audience of each book.

Holy crap, that must be a huge amount of work! :yikes: Can you share any trade secrets? Like, how do you figure out who a book's audience is, and then where do you find them, and how do you market to them? Or do you use different distributers for each imprint?


Okay. Things are getting mixed together ;)

We only have three audiences at the moment. It's pretty easy to figure out who the audience is for children's books, spec fiction, and lesbian fiction.

We have lists of reviewers that target each of these markets and send books to them, we send out announcements to online communities in each of these markets, we send out flyers to bookstores, etc., etc., for each of these markets. We're constantly getting the word out.

Since our books are available through Ingram and Bertram's we don't have to worry about all these potential buyers being able to easily order copies.

Granted the easiest to sell is lesbian fiction, because it's a smaller group with a big appetite for new books.

Spec fic is difficult because of the ton of stuff that's published. Getting reviewed is hard because they receive hundreds of review books a month and they concentrate on reviewing books by the major publishers and well-known authors. But we keep trying and have gotten a couple of reviews.

Fortunately, there are places like Genre Mall who sells the work of smaller publishers of spec fic.

Children's books are the hardest to market. Major reviewers have even less space for children's reviews and the competition for attention is fierce. We have hopes that the picture book we're working on will be the breakthrough children's book because our artist's books have been stocked nationally in Barnes and Noble bookstores. These are the kinds of edges small publishers take every advantage of to get the edge.

It's a constant ongoing thing and the sales of our books ebb and flow as they are discovered by new pockets of readers.

Big publishers are like the movie industry in that they focus primarily on the blockbuster out-of-the-starting-gate sales and they let books die quickly to make room for the next group. Books go out of print before their potential audiences find them.

Small publishers have the luxury to let the readers find them.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:58

sbarret wrote:
carrietierney wrote:
Now it's time for me to ask a question, since a part of this is to gain an understanding of the writer looking for a publisher.

Why do you want to publish your novel?


Well, to answer the first part (since I see it as two diff. topics) - What I look for in a publisher -

- Presence in the brick and mortar stores. In the perfect world, this would be the Borders of the world, but independent bookstores, glbt and feminist book stores definitely.

-marketing and distribution - The ability to 'get the word out' about my book and a distribution model that is 'friendly' to the bookstores (like the return policy and ease of ordering etc). So for instance, your 35k-100k hits/month vastly outnumbers my 7k hits/month on my own website so you have much better marketing than I do on my own :lol:

-strong editor/publication staff - including the peeps who do the typesetting, book covers, front/back matter etc. (both substantive and grammar-based editors) A good editor is worth her weight in gold, and so is a good cover artist for instance.

-professionalism. Both the author and the publisher should be treating this like a business.

- long-term viability - Ain't much worse than dangling in the breeze cuz either the publisher has gone under or you've had to sever your relationship w/ your publisher (and leave your existing books hanging as well). And while I haven't had the joy (cough) of re-editing a book that was once in print but isn't anymore, I can't imagine that's much fun. So staying in print is a good thing!

And lastly for me - flexibility. I write in multiple genres and I wouldn't want a publisher that would push me to write only a particular type of book.

wew. long winded much? and now the 2nd question:

Why do I want to publish my novel -

Don't I wish I knew at this point? esp. facing yet another round of edits before a publisher even sees the beastie! :yikes:

I guess my motivation is that I think I have entertaining stories and I want to share them beyond the online world (I started out posting stories on the Academy of Bards and other freebee sites).

I also want to improve my writing. That means getting quality feedback and the validation that being published brings. It means my writing skills have made it to at least that level. Granted different publishers have different levels of quality and editorial support, but being published is a step up from self-published/vanity for instance.

(fwiw - I don' have the self-motivation to improve my writing just for online posting. If I'm going to spend a year of my life sweating over the storyline etc, I want the book in print at the end and the sales figures to go w/ it. I don't expect big $$, but if I can't pay for my website etc via the royalties, I need to reconsider my hobbies).

At this point, as I consider what I want to do w/ my next book, I go back and forth on what's important to me. Is it the ability to write 'my' stories as I see fit? Or do I want to maximize sales (and thus adapt 'my' stories to better suit the niche market)? Or maybe I just want to work with a quality editor/publisher who can help me grow as a writer and to heck w/ how many books get sold?

Alas, i don't know the answer yet... stay tuned kiddies!
:lol:

Sandra
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:59

carrietierney wrote:
sbarret wrote:What I look for in a publisher -

- Presence in the brick and mortar stores. In the perfect world, this would be the Borders of the world, but independent bookstores, glbt and feminist book stores definitely.


People seem to think that publishers know when and where they're books are being sold. The truth is, all we get are reports on how many copies of a title has been sold and a monthly check. And the check represents sales that took place three months earlier because everyone gets paid--bookstore, wholesaler/distributor, printer--before the publisher.

We know our books are in real bookstores because we've had a few returns. That's the only way we know, unless we happen to walk into a store that happens to have one of our books in it.

-marketing and distribution - The ability to 'get the word out' about my book and a distribution model that is 'friendly' to the bookstores (like the return policy and ease of ordering etc). So for instance, your 35k-100k hits/month vastly outnumbers my 7k hits/month on my own website so you have much better marketing than I do on my own :lol:


Khimairal Ink in itself is a good marketing tool, it gives us plenty of visibility to the right readership for Nuance and to a slightly lesser extent, Mindancer Press.

-strong editor/publication staff - including the peeps who do the typesetting, book covers, front/back matter etc. (both substantive and grammar-based editors) A good editor is worth her weight in gold, and so is a good cover artist for instance.


We do everything. And we are grammar nazi's . . . We hope that Khimairal Ink reflects that. We admit that covers are not our strength but that's been a longer learning curve than being able to typeset a book so it looks professional. Our most recent covers are better than the ones for our first books and we hope to keep getting better at them.

-professionalism. Both the author and the publisher should be treating this like a business.


Amen.

- long-term viability - Ain't much worse than dangling in the breeze cuz either the publisher has gone under or you've had to sever your relationship w/ your publisher (and leave your existing books hanging as well). And while I haven't had the joy (cough) of re-editing a book that was once in print but isn't anymore, I can't imagine that's much fun. So staying in print is a good thing!


Well, it's our intention to stay in business for a long long time and that's all anyone can say about what may or may not happen in the future.

And lastly for me - flexibility. I write in multiple genres and I wouldn't want a publisher that would push me to write only a particular type of book.


Let me go back to my mantra about publishing. Publishers sign books, not authors.

A publisher doesn't have any right to control what you write. It's your writing career, not theirs. There are no laws that say all your books have to be published by one publisher.

That's why most agents work to get Options Clauses and Right of First Refusal Clauses marked out of book contracts, or, try to severely limit them to, as you say, books only in a single genre, and to limit the length a time a publisher has to consider this next book to as short a time as possible--usually a month. The author shouldn't have to wait months to market a book somewhere else.

I'll get to the second part of your post in another post. I stopped for another basketball game and now I need some dinner. :roll:
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 08:59

carrietierney wrote:Just a word of advice. If you're interested in marketing these stories to zines and anthologies, don't post them to the Internet. Most zines consider this a first time publication and won't look at the story.

The reason is . . . many zines want to be the first place where a reader sees a story--many pay for the privilege of publishing a story for the first time. This can't happen if it's been on the Internet for the whole world to see. Now, if you post the stories to a private mailing list or private forum or Web sites, including online workshops and critique groups, that are password accessible, that's okay.

If a story has been published in an online zine like Khimairal Ink, a magazine that looks at reprints will be much more inclined to accept that story than one that's been posted to the author's Web site or one that simply features stories by any one who submits them.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 09:00

carrietierney wrote:
HH wrote:Lesbian presses have traditionally -- and in fact continue to -- been happy to publish novels that have been up on the web.


This is how the whole new renaissance of lesbian publishing started, people forming publishing companies to publish novels they've found online. The whole lesbian publishing industry relies on these novels for their book lists.

So collectively, lesfic authors (not you, Sandra, but some of the ones I've argued with on places like lesfic_unbound) seem wholly unaware that putting stories on places like the Academy of Bards has used up their first rights, and they're legally obliged to tell the editor that the work is not unpublished if they submit it to a zine like KI.


Exactly. Short stories are a different critter than novels. Writers should be extremely stingy about sharing short stories with the world if they want to market them to zines and anthologies.

Two of our authors Barbara Davies and C.A. Casey (Mindancer) maintain two separate writing paths. One is for online work that caters to the lesbian reader and the other is for the mainstream spec fic market. I don't think either of them would dream of posting stories meant for the magazine market to their Internet fans. In fact, Emoria fans will have to wait to see Casey's latest Emoria story until it's published in Sorcerous Signals. She could have posted it to her Emoria fans but she wrote it for the spec fic market so that wasn't even a consideration for her.

And Carrie, :smooch: :smooch: :smooch: to you for offering a contract that doesn't come with an options-clause pair of handcuffs.


You know what? The model we based our contract on didn't have an options clause or a right of first refusal clause or a non-compete clause for that matter. You know where that model came from? The SFWA Web site.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 09:00

carrietierney wrote:
Baker wrote:Carrie, just to shift the topic a wee bit. It's about the Toe to Toe anthology. I see on the submission guidelines that standalone excerpts from printed novels are acceptable. Am I reading that correctly? If so, could you help me out a little with how one might go about selecting such a passage? That is, how does one go about deciding if a chunk of a novel works on its own?


I had to go back and look at our guidelines to see if we really said "printed novels" because we just got an excerpt from what seems to be an unpublished and possibly unfinished novel that we absolutely love.

But we just say "novels" so we're spared from breaking our own guidelines. :)

Now how to find a chunk of words in the middle of a novel that can stand on its own as a story is a little tough to define and find. The above submission is part character study and part showing the main character going through a single smaller flow of actions that has a beginning, middle, and end, within the larger flow of actions of the novel.

Short stories require little, if any, exposition--they just jump into the middle of whatever the story is about and get on with it until the story is told. Excerpts from novels are often more vignette than short story, but there must be something about the excerpt that is a complete and satisfying read in itself and, as a bonus, creates enough interest for the reader that they want to read the whole novel.

Also, if a section of a novel makes a good short story, but it's not easy to pull it out as is, it's all right to smooth out the beginning and the end and remove or alter material that is relevant to the larger novel, but makes no sense in an excerpt.

We're interested in the story, period, not how the author fashioned it.

The thing to remember, if the book is still in print, you may have to get permission from the publisher to offer an excerpt to another publisher. This, of course, depends on the contract for the book.

We'd personally jump for joy if excerpts from our novels appeared in zines or magazines--free publicity is always priceless.
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Re: Bedazzled Ink interview: January 2008

Postby FranW » 28 Mar 2010, 09:01

carrietierney wrote:
sbarret wrote:fwiw - I thought BSB required 50% NEW material to accept a book that appeared online. So stretching a novella to novel length would work, but I'm not so sure about just taking down 50% of a story and submitting the full story then.

Sandra


Either way it sounds like random requirements that have no basis in hard research about published stories remaining on the Internet. Not to mention too much control over the creative process. I mean does the book have to be exactly 50% more, even if it's a much better book if 35% is all that's needed to make it publishable?

Are you saying that they accept an online book and then make an author increase it 50% before they'll publish it? Or do they check to see if a submission has been posted online and if the submission has 50% more material in it than the online version before they accept it or not?

None of this makes sense. We have guidelines for length of book. If a submission meets those guidelines and we like the book we'll accept it. I can't wrap my mind around accepting a submission and then requiring the author to increase its size by 50% just because the book is posted to the Internet or checking to see if it's 50% larger than the online version.

My brain is starting to hurt.

Too much pointless control and too much straight-jacketing writers into creating and posting according to one and only one publisher's requirements.

Too much fussing about whether leaving published stories on the Internet is a good idea or not.

When the late Jim Baen decided to post for free in MS Word docs, no less, newly published books at Baen, everyone thought he had completely lost his mind. I mean you could go to the Baen site and download the latest Honor Harrington novel for free. No problem.

You know what? To quote the Wikipedia article on the Baen Free Library: "It appears that sales of both the books made available free and other books by the same author, even from a different publisher, increase when the electronic version is made available free of charge." Here's a link to the article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baen_Free_Library.

Knowledge is power and if a publisher is requiring things that no one else seems to be requiring or goes against logic or plain good sense, do research on it. Common sense and initial gut reaction usually prevails.
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