Sunday, January 22, 2006

On being a published author

I finished up my latest story yesterday. It's the first full-length story (not a flash) that I've completed since Oct. 25 - almost three months. That's one of the longest fallow periods I've ever had - but my production during the last half of 2005 dropped sharply, with my starting a new job June 1st (with a 70 mile commute for the first two months) and then being short-handed at the job for nine weeks from September to right after Thanksgiving. I really didn't have much time at home.
This latest story is called "Irredenta" and I've made an effort to develop the character of the protagonist a bit more. He's not a particularly sympathetic or even honest character, but I think he's well-rounded. Oh, well, off we go...
There has been a discussion on the Asimov's forum about whether editors tend to buy stories from already-established authors. Here is how I weighed in on the subject:
"I don't know about you, but when I see a book on the bookshelf by an author I already like (or who I know is good) I will stop and check it out first, before others whose names I don't recognize. That's human nature. Anything by Charlie Stross stops me in my tracks right now. Dave Marusek has only written one book so far, but you can be assured, his name on anything in the future will get skid marks from me.
"And note, I don't write anything like either of them, But I know they're good.
"That doesn't mean I won't read stories by people whose names I don't recognize. But I'll go for the known quantities first.
"So editors are no different than anyone else. That doesn't mean that they'll buy anything that flies off a famous author's printer. Heck, I think Gardner and Gordon both have rejected people like Niven and Card and Reed many times.
"The only thing being a published author will get you is a little kindliness.
"I like to think that when one of my stories lands in a slush pile, Sheila and Stanley and Gordon and others may think, "Well, here's something else from Lou. At least I know it won't suck."
"It may not be great or ground-breaking, but at least it won't make your eyes bleed when you read it. I think folks don't realize how much poorly-written ungrammatical drivel gets sent to editors by people who have no realistic self-awareness of their own capabilities."

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