Interview Transcripts

Science Fiction 101 (in the absence of the guest speaker!) with Mary Rosenblum 4/29/04

Event start time:

Thu Apr 29 19:01:36 2004

Event end time:

Thu Apr 29 20:54:08 2004



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello, all. Tonight we'll be chatting with Gardner Dozois, award winning editor of Asimov's Magazine and the Best of the Year's Science Fiction anthologies, as well as many other anthologies.

Mary Rosenblum

I haven't heard from him today, so I hope that something unexpected hasn't come up to get in the way of his appearing here!

Mary Rosenblum

I know a lot of people are anxious to meet him, and he is the best short fiction editor I know...

Mary Rosenblum

But he's leaving town in the morning to teach a week long workshop on the west coast, and last minute problems can appear.

janp

He's probably reading your latest submission

Mary Rosenblum

He already bought that one, janp. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

I need to write him something new!

chatty lady

Been watching TV shows to try and understand just what definition of Science Fiction really is, its confusing.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, chatty, you won't get it from TV or movies. That stuff is junk.

Mary Rosenblum

There is some VERY good SF out there, stuff that blurs the line between literary ficition and genre.

Mary Rosenblum

Gardner will have a whole list of promising writers to watch for.

Mary Rosenblum

SF is a varied field, from space opera like Star Wars and Star Trek..

Mary Rosenblum

which are entertainment fare, to really thought provoking works that follow today's trends into the near future...

Mary Rosenblum

so we can think about what we're doing.

Mary Rosenblum

That's the type of SF that I write, by the way.

Mary Rosenblum

Greg Bear's 'Darwin's Radio' and 'Darwin's Children' are examples of that type of SF.

vmaroukian

i just bought the 2004 nebula showcase today. that will give one a fairly good idea of what sci fi is, i hope...

Mary Rosenblum

It will, vmarouk. An even better example is the anthology Gardner puts out every year: The Year's Best SF.

Mary Rosenblum

He picks the top stories from all the magazines and ezines.

Mary Rosenblum

By the way, I will have a story in the June 23 issue of SciFiction for those of you who want to see what I write.

Mary Rosenblum

That is the magazine of the SciFi channel, edited by Ellen Datlow...

Mary Rosenblum

who is another excellent editor and one who tends to publish the literary end of the spectrum.

Mary Rosenblum

And of course, SF is joined at the hip to fantasy.

Mary Rosenblum

Now there is a boundary that blurs!

Mary Rosenblum

This is our Professional Connection live interview with Gardner Dozois, award winning editor of Asimov's Magazine and a host of successful anthologies. Feel free to ask any questions you like! To ask a question, click on your "Ask a Question" icon/button. (Or the "word bubble" icon, RIGHT NEXT TO THE RED QUESTION MARK.) Or type /ask before your question in the regular send bar.

Mary Rosenblum

Of course he's not here yet...

Mary Rosenblum

so we're just talking about SF until he shows up.

vmaroukian

Congratulations. Does our guest tonight only publish SciFi? And do most publishers have limited scope

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, vmark.

Mary Rosenblum

This is true even in book length fiction.

Mary Rosenblum

Editors will work with one particular type of fiction or nonfiction.

Mary Rosenblum

They are very narrow in their focus.

Mary Rosenblum

However, Gardner plans to move into editing Young Adult fiction...

Mary Rosenblum

which makes me understand suddenly why he has been encouraging me to try writing YA! LOL

vmaroukian

Is it just me or has fantasy become more popular in the last 5-10 years

Mary Rosenblum

It is not just you, vmar! It is now a much more popular genre than SF.

Mary Rosenblum

Part of that is quite recent and due to the Harry Potter interest.

Mary Rosenblum

That got a lot of non-fantasy-readers interested in the genre.

vmaroukian

I wonder how much LOTR Is to be thanked for that...

Mary Rosenblum

Yep, and that, too. Both those books/movies worked to increase interest in the genre.

Mary Rosenblum

However, even the blockbuster SF movies like The Matrix failed to really boost sales of Sf.

Mary Rosenblum

So the reason for the popularity of fantasy as opposed to SF may go deeper than mere media exposure.

Mary Rosenblum

But if you are a beginning writer, you have a much better chance of selling in fantasy than SF right now.

senicynt

??SciFi channel magazine? I get the station on satellite, but I didn't know they had a mag also.

Mary Rosenblum

They do, sen. It's a very nice magazine, large size, glossy, with excellent fiction and interviews with stars, etc.

Mary Rosenblum

I've seen it at Barnes and Noble.

chatty lady

Whats the name of the June 23rd story again?

Mary Rosenblum

It's titled 'Jumpers', chatty.

senicynt

Hi mary, Who would you say is the most definitive SciFi author ? by decade... ;-)

Mary Rosenblum

Ooo, this is a question for Gardner, who has the historical index permanently stamped on his cortex!

Mary Rosenblum

Certainly Isaac Asimov and Heinlein helped shape the field in the fifties, when SF first took off.

Mary Rosenblum

Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison are powerful influencs, as is James Tiptree Junior...

Mary Rosenblum

who I later discovered was none other than my Aunt Frances' friend Alice, who wrote under a pen name she kept carefully secret. TAlk about small world...

Mary Rosenblum

Ursula LeGuin who is almost my neighbor is another powerful voice in the field.

Mary Rosenblum

As is Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress, Greg Bear...

vmaroukian

it would be great if you could point us to a site where the major sci fi magazine publications are listed

Mary Rosenblum

The best way is to visit the magazine websites themselves.

Mary Rosenblum

The top are Analog, Asimov's, SciFiction.

Mary Rosenblum

And Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Mary Rosenblum

They all have websites and Asimov's and Analog (I think) have live chat forums like this one.

Mary Rosenblum

Asimov's is on Tuesday nights when I have a class, which is why I'm never there!

craig

Would "Animal Farm" be considered as fantasy or science fiction what about "Fired" and who wrote "Fired"

Mary Rosenblum

Animal Farm, as with Metamorphosis' by Kafka are literary works that are not at all considered SF...

Mary Rosenblum

although you could certainly call them fantasy at least!

Mary Rosenblum

As I said, the line blurs between literary and speculative fiction.

Mary Rosenblum

Magic realism slides right across that boundary, too.

paja

Do you think the drop in interest in SF is because we've got so much science stuff in the news?

Mary Rosenblum

Paja, that is certainly my guess.

Mary Rosenblum

In the fifties in the heyday of SF, people were so excited about the marvelous potential of science.

Mary Rosenblum

We were going to cure all diseases, vacation on the moon, terraform Mars.

Mary Rosenblum

Now, science is the boogyman that is trying to crawl out from under the bed...

Mary Rosenblum

in the form of genetically modified life, viruses, biological weapons.

senicynt

LOL... tell Greg Bear to get busy and write more books. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

I'll pass that on to him, sen! I'm sure he's working on at least one!

coway

as a kid I feel in love with Brave New World

Mary Rosenblum

I liked it, too, coway. And it wasn't considered SF at all.

Mary Rosenblum

The genre really began with HG Wells 'War of the Worlds' .

jeff colburn

I've noticed that over the past few years genre stories..

jeff colburn

have gone from a traditional writing style to a more..

jeff colburn

literary style. I often see stories that ramble, have no..

jeff colburn

ending or an ending that doesn't resolve the story. I find..

jeff colburn

the writing so poor that I often read only a few pages..

jeff colburn

to comment on this trend?

Mary Rosenblum

I will, Jeff. That is an astute read, by the way. Yes, that is indeed the trend.

Mary Rosenblum

Not in Asimov's because Gardner really believes in a solid conflict/resolution structure in the tranditional sense.

Mary Rosenblum

But there are several edtors who are preferentially looking for a more 'literary' style...

Mary Rosenblum

where conflict and resolution are not necessarily the foundation of the story.

Mary Rosenblum

Jay Lake, editor of the yearly anthology 'Polyphony' likes that literary style.

Mary Rosenblum

Gordon Van Gelder of Fantasy and Science Fiction tends to publish some stories that could be called 'literary' in style.

Mary Rosenblum

Not Stan Schmidt at Analog. You need a conflict, a resolution and get your science right!

senicynt

I think the Matrix failed to boost SciFi because it was somewhat dissappointing as a movie trilogy. It ended up like a video game rather than a decisive ending. I wasn't impressed by the last one.

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, sen. I missed this when we were talking about the matrix.

Mary Rosenblum

But only the first movie really impressed most viewers, from what I have heard.

bengalrose

How often do you see a really good piece from the POV of non-human character? Something that makes you sit up and take notice.

Mary Rosenblum

Bengal, that is a good question. The answer is...rarely. It is VERY hard to create a creature who is not human.

Mary Rosenblum

Generally, the 'aliens' seem more like humans in furry or scaled or what have you suits.

coway

Heck, now I feel like I'm wasting my time to finish the sci-fi in hopes to sell it.

Mary Rosenblum

Why coway? Publishers are still buying SF. Why shouldn't they buy yours?

loriendil

Do editors like or dislike stories that blur SF and fantasy?

Mary Rosenblum

Loriendil, in short fiction, you can blur the two all you want.

Mary Rosenblum

In book length work, the marketing department wants to put your book on the fantasy shelf or the SF shelf in teh bookstore.

Mary Rosenblum

Your editor will choose one or the other for you.

vmaroukian

the problem is science has advanced so much that what once seemed impossible is proven reality every day

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding, vmark. All of us who write near future SF feel tomorrow's hot breath on our necks, believe me.

bengalrose

But if science is the boogie man, then there is a HUGE market for speculative fiction that leans to the darker side...isn't there?

Mary Rosenblum

Well, yes and no, bengal.

Mary Rosenblum

It's the driving power behind top selling thrillers where a plague gets started...

Mary Rosenblum

or a virus mutates into something deadly.

Mary Rosenblum

But depressing, post-apocalyptic stories do tend to send readers fleeing in droves these days!

Mary Rosenblum

If you want to forcast gloom, make it cataclysmic doom if you want it to sell well. :-)

senicynt

I think Gardner is lost in a time warp... ;-)

Mary Rosenblum

Yeah, I'm afraid so. I hope nothing awful happened. If he just forgot, I'll grumble at him.

Mary Rosenblum

But I'll schedule him for another visit later on. When he's NOT leaving town the next day.

mbvoelker

IMO C. J. Cherryh does excellent alien POV's.

Mary Rosenblum

She does, but they're still very human. She is one of the stronger space opera writers, and I enjoy her work.

Mary Rosenblum

She does good space ships! :-)

Mary Rosenblum

This is our Professional Connection live interview with Gardner Dozois, award winning editor of Asimov's Magazine and a host of successful anthologies. Feel free to ask any questions you like! To ask a question, click on your "Ask a Question" icon/button. (Or the "word bubble" icon, RIGHT NEXT TO THE RED QUESTION MARK.) Or type /ask before your question in the regular send bar.

Mary Rosenblum

Only Gardner is mysteriously absent so we're just chatting about SF.

vmaroukian

mary, oryx and crake, i find, has no clear conflict resolution. is that your opinion also?

Mary Rosenblum

I haven't read that one. It's in the towering stack by my bed, I'm sure! But there are quite a few stories where the resolution is tenuous at best in my opinion.

Mary Rosenblum

Although many of these stories imply a resolution that will take place later on.

Mary Rosenblum

That is a valid resolution even if it doesn't happen on stage.

coway

Mary , in your writing career have you ever accidently stumbled on real issues that would be best for you not to write about?

Mary Rosenblum

Ha, coway. Those are the issues I am most interested in writing about!

senicynt

One of the problems I see for SciFi is that most supposed SciFi books on teh shelf are actually Fantasy. They've combined the genres but moved SciFi off teh shelf. Either that, or there just aren't many SciFi writers now.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, the age old arguement about Science Fiction versus Science Fantasy! :-)

Mary Rosenblum

It is true that most SF is based on things that are not founded in real science. Faster than light travel is one of the biggies.

senicynt

What about Alfouis Huzxley back in the 30's with Brave New World. He wrote mostly literature but crossed over on that one.

Mary Rosenblum

Yep. And it's now considered a classic in literature, not SF.

Mary Rosenblum

A lot of writers did that. Shelly wrote serious literature.

Mary Rosenblum

Frankenstein was done on a dare, as I recall.

tkat_2

I know that the star trek communicator in the original series is now the cell phone

Mary Rosenblum

Yep. And TV, computers, and many other 'today' technology was predicted long before it happened by SF writers.

Mary Rosenblum

So read SF if you want a glimpse of tomorrow. We do get it right quite often!

coway

or where does science fiction cross with reality?

Mary Rosenblum

Tehre are several types of SF stories. Some cross with reality and some don't.

Mary Rosenblum

The 'space opera' like Star Trek and CJ Cherryh's work David Brin's and the others..

Mary Rosenblum

set their stories in a far future that is very removed from today's real science.

Mary Rosenblum

Then there is the 'if this goes on' story that looks at something happening to day and extrapolates it into the future.

Mary Rosenblum

If we do this today....what will it be like in fifty or a hundred years.

Mary Rosenblum

A lot of us are playing with things like genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and the like with just that focus.

gskearney

I wonder how many of the early adopters of cell phone technology were influenced by Star Trek? --gk

Mary Rosenblum

Well, Gary, a lot of them DID flip open for awhile, if you remember. LOL

loriendil

Grumble gently -- he might be reading my story at the time..

Mary Rosenblum

Oh don't worry, Loriendil. He would never let someone else's grumbling affect what he's reading. :-)

bengalrose

Gardner, what in your opinion helps a manuscript rise from the slush pile, especially when the ms is from a newbie like me?

Mary Rosenblum

I'll stand in for Gardner a bit here, Bengal. He's a very good friend of mine, has published a ton of my stories (I actually found out this year that I am in the top ten authors in the history of the magazine for published work. Surprised me!)...

Mary Rosenblum

Gardner always looks for one thing when he reads a story...

Mary Rosenblum

the answer to this particular question. And I think it is a question that you need to answer for every story you write.

Mary Rosenblum

His question is: Why am I better for having read this story?"

Mary Rosenblum

That doesn't mean that the story must have a moral, an uplifting message or anything like that.

Mary Rosenblum

What me means by that, is how has this story changed me?

Mary Rosenblum

How has it made me look at people, the world, the future, myself differently.

Mary Rosenblum

I have heard him give that answer over and over and it is a question I always ask myself as I work on a story.

Mary Rosenblum

And I'm glad you sent that question in Bengal, because that was something I was going to ask him if none of you did.

Mary Rosenblum

I think that is why he has won so many awards for his stories. He publishes work that makes a difference to the reader.

Mary Rosenblum

Every story won't reach every person, and when you write a strong story...

Mary Rosenblum

some of your readers won't get it.

Mary Rosenblum

But if that reader somehow perceives the world differently even in a tiny way...

Mary Rosenblum

then you have made a difference with your writing.

Mary Rosenblum

For me, and for many other writers I know, this is why we do it.

mbvoelker

Small, rural bookstores put the Fantasy on the shelf with the SF because they don't carry enough of either to fill a shelf otherwise. ;-)

Mary Rosenblum

They do, mb. But the marketing people sill separate it in the catalog. Even if physically it ends up on the same shelf.

senicynt

ALL SciFi authors UNITE! Let's flood the market with GOOD SciFi ;-)

Mary Rosenblum

Sounds like a plan to me, sen.

bengalrose

Mary, what in your opinion are the 2 or 3 most critical things to do to help an ms rise to the top of the slush pile?

Mary Rosenblum

I can sure tell you than, bengal! I know most of the editors in the field personally and I've heard all their answers to this question.

Mary Rosenblum

And unanimously...the first paragraph MUST grab them.

Mary Rosenblum

Most editors pick up a ms and toss the cover letter aside.

Mary Rosenblum

So don't waste too much time on it, because it will be read after the ms in most cases!

Mary Rosenblum

Then they start reading. The minute their attention wanders...all over.

Mary Rosenblum

If that is sentence two. Too bad.

Mary Rosenblum

Now that seems terribly harsh, yes?

Mary Rosenblum

I mean this story might be a Pullitzer quality story..once you get to page three and beyond.

Mary Rosenblum

But you have to look at this from the editor's side of the desk.

Mary Rosenblum

He has 1000 ms to read this month. No kidding.

Mary Rosenblum

And if he publishes your story in his magazine and you are an unknown...

Mary Rosenblum

and the reader stops reading at sentence two, he has wasted the page space.

bengalrose

Thanks, Mary. It is so difficult being on the outside looking in. I WANT to be a part of the "in croud". I know this is gonna sound corny, but I feel like I am close. Is that crazy?

Mary Rosenblum

Not at all. I started out in the same space, remember.

Mary Rosenblum

And if you want to write seriously in the field, then save your pennies and go to SF conventions.

Mary Rosenblum

Writers are all over the place. Editors attend the big cons.

Mary Rosenblum

There are panels on 'rising from the slush', 'creating real characters', 'selling to Asimovs'.

Mary Rosenblum

And you can talk to authors and editors. Nobody hides. We're a friendly crowd.

Mary Rosenblum

Use some manners and common sense and you can do a lot of networking.

vmaroukian

mary, how long did it take you to get to wheer you are now career-wise?

Mary Rosenblum

My first story was published in 1990 in Asimov's, vmar.

Mary Rosenblum

I wa a Hugo nominee in...can't remember... Around 95 I think.

Mary Rosenblum

I got a lot of good reviews and my career came on very quickly.

Mary Rosenblum

Mostly it's a matter or write good stories and sell 'em.

loriendil

With all the subgenres, how does one learn how to categorize their stories?

Mary Rosenblum

That's marketing's job, loriendil. But you need to do some research before you send a book or story to an editor.

Mary Rosenblum

For example, Asimov publishes 'soft' SF...

Mary Rosenblum

But Analog wants solid science. If you send your soft SF to Analog, you'll get rejected.

vmaroukian

do you know anyone who has sold a MS at one of these conferences>

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, but it is VERY bad form to hand ms to editors.

Mary Rosenblum

If you pitch your story to an editor he may tell you to send him the ms afterward.

Mary Rosenblum

However, a novice in the writers workshop I did with Jay Lake back in Februrary, sold his workshop story to Jay. Jay told him on the spot he'd guy it if he fixed the opening. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

buy it...

vmaroukian

when i think of new ideas for stories, it is often the effect of seemingly a tiny part of what we call reality that fascinates me

Mary Rosenblum

That's what a lot of writers focus on, vmar.

Mary Rosenblum

That's what I personally see as the strongest part of the genre.

calgal

Are there any SF books you would reccomend to beginners?

Mary Rosenblum

Calgal, the anthologies: The Years Best SF, to begin with, are excellent assortments of all the stories that make up SF.

bengalrose

Is pitching your story to an editor at a con good or bad form?

Mary Rosenblum

It's fine if you are polite about it and ask first.

Mary Rosenblum

Most editors would much rather tell you if it is anything they're even interested in seeing...

Mary Rosenblum

rather than have it added to the mountain of ms beside the desk.

Mary Rosenblum

Always ask an editor what they are looking for right now.

Mary Rosenblum

They will tell you what they do not want to see.

pjwriter2

Mary, I would love to attend a con. but money seems to be a

pjwriter2

problem how do u find some close enough to home to attend

Mary Rosenblum

For those of you who are serious about Sf, you need to subscribe to Locus Magazine.

Mary Rosenblum

This is the trade magazine for SF writers. Most of us get it.

Mary Rosenblum

You read all the publishing news in it...who just left which house and which house is starting a new line or looking for a particular type of story.

Mary Rosenblum

And they have a complete calendar of events.

Mary Rosenblum

It is a business expense and it comes off my taxes.

Mary Rosenblum

It is not cheap.

Mary Rosenblum

It's 60 for a year...12 issues.

Mary Rosenblum

But you will get all the inside information in the business.

mbvoelker

The one piece of technology I don't recall seeing forecast in SF when I was a teen is the word processor. Though Asimov had a voice operated, correctable typewriter with a single, customized font in one of the Foundation books.

Mary Rosenblum

I think they skipped the word processor, mb.

Mary Rosenblum

They went from typewriters pretty much to voice-to-text machines.

Mary Rosenblum

And smaller cons are not that expensive.

Mary Rosenblum

If you buy a membership way ahead, it might be under 50 dollars for the weekend.

Mary Rosenblum

If you know other writers who are going, you can share a hotel room. The cons provide basic food stuffs for attendees.

Mary Rosenblum

Nothing fancy, but you won't starve.

paja

How do you remember all the names and faces from cons?

Mary Rosenblum

Make notes!

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

vmaroukian

does "writer's Markets" specify what each publisher prefers. would they say asimov's likes soft sf

Mary Rosenblum

They do, vmar. But guidelines are vague.

Mary Rosenblum

That's why it's better to read a couple of issues.

Mary Rosenblum

The guidelines stay the same but each editor interprets them his or her own way.

Mary Rosenblum

This is our Professional Connection live interview with Gardner Dozois, award winning editor of Asimov's Magazine and a host of successful anthologies. Feel free to ask any questions you like! To ask a question, click on your "Ask a Question" icon/button. (Or the "word bubble" icon, RIGHT NEXT TO THE RED QUESTION MARK.) Or type /ask before your question in the regular send bar.

Mary Rosenblum

Only we're talking SF tonight, since Gardner vanished into a time warp.

paja

Please define S fiction vs S fantasy

Mary Rosenblum

Paja, science fiction to the purist is based on real science that exists today. Most science fiction is really fantasy, based on things that don't exist like faster than light travel, interstellar communication, and the like. It' s called science fiction, too.

Mary Rosenblum

The distinction is negligible.

vmaroukian

so, mary, when you first approach an editor with a story, do you attach the entire story or a synopsis. what abotu a novel..."

Mary Rosenblum

For a short story, vmar, you send the entire story.

Mary Rosenblum

The editor will read it.

Mary Rosenblum

As far as novels go, each publisher will tell what to send.

Mary Rosenblum

You will either send the complete ms.

Mary Rosenblum

Of you will send a synopsis and summary of the story.

Mary Rosenblum

You don't send a query as a novice writer.

Mary Rosenblum

I can do that, but the editor knows that if I say I can write that book, I can.

Mary Rosenblum

She doesn't know that YOU a novice, can.

vmaroukian

what about sample chapters

Mary Rosenblum

Usually they want one to three sample chapters, vmar.

Mary Rosenblum

They want to know if you can actually put sentences together.

Mary Rosenblum

Again...that first, hook, chapter needs to GLEAM.

Mary Rosenblum

And there are is an actual selling fantasy synopsis on the website.

tkat_2

forgive me, but most of the scifi I've been exposed to is on TV --and you did say most of it was junk

Mary Rosenblum

Well, tkat, when compared to the written SF it isn't very good.

Mary Rosenblum

The really cutting edge work, the cool new ideas, and the really strong stories are in the books and magazines and anthologies. Hollywood lags FAR behind.

coway

so every sentence in first chapter has to GLEAM?

Mary Rosenblum

That would be a very good thing, coway. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

Remember. Your editor does not have time to dig for good stuff in your ms. There are 999 book length ms waiting to be read yet.

Mary Rosenblum

You need to smack the editor in the puss with your powerful prose.

vmaroukian

mine simply shimmer, but it is apparent that may not do. ;-)

Mary Rosenblum

I wouldn't say that, vmar. The big part of breaking in is finding the editor that 'click's.

Mary Rosenblum

Every editor wants to find the 'next big name'. Believe me, editors are as passionate about what they do as we writers are about what we do.

Mary Rosenblum

So they are looking for something new, different, fresh, or just a darn good read.

Mary Rosenblum

What one editor shrugs at, another editor will drool over.

Mary Rosenblum

Fiction is VERY subjective!

coway

Making every sentence GLEAM sounds almost impossible...or like a ver TALL order. WOW

Mary Rosenblum

No it isn't coway. You just revise until it reads really well.

mrsdesktop

How do you learn an editor's preference? They all can differ

Mary Rosenblum

They do, mrs.desktop.

Mary Rosenblum

That's why reading a couple of issues of the magazine, or some books published in that imprint will help you.

Mary Rosenblum

This is especially true in the novel market.

Mary Rosenblum

Different publishers and editors like different things.

Mary Rosenblum

Each major publisher, like Random House, or Viking, or Putnam Berkeley has 'imprints'.

Mary Rosenblum

These are lines of books that are similar in content and style, usually edited by a couple of editors.

Mary Rosenblum

Del Rey books, where I published my first 3 SF books, is an imprint of Random House.

Mary Rosenblum

You have written your SF novel or your Fantasy.

Mary Rosenblum

Go to the bookstore. Get yourself a nice latte, and start browsing the racks.

Mary Rosenblum

Read the blurb on the back. Does this sound something like your story?

Mary Rosenblum

Is it similar in some general way?

Mary Rosenblum

Make a note of the imprint on the spine.

Mary Rosenblum

You will notice that books like yours will tend to show up most often in a few imprints.

Mary Rosenblum

So send your novel to these imprints first.

pjwriter2

Do we ever get to write what we want or in our way

Mary Rosenblum

I do every day, pj.

Mary Rosenblum

I wouldn't do this if I was writing to another's tune. I'd get a better paying day job, believe me!

Mary Rosenblum

You write what you want, but if you don't learn the markets...

Mary Rosenblum

what happens?

Mary Rosenblum

You send your work out, you get a lot of rejections, and you quit!

Mary Rosenblum

But if you narrow your markets, focus on the places where YOUR work is most likely to catch an editor's eye...

Mary Rosenblum

you will get fewer rejections before you break in.

vmaroukian

did all imprints start as independent publishers?

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, they did, vmar.

Mary Rosenblum

Lester Del Rey and his wife published books for years. Their company was finally bought up by Random House.

smeagol

Mary, a friend sent me this saying to put above my desk: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe. Thought it was good for reading before writing query letters or sending out ms :-)

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding, smeagol! That's great! Goethe does say some very sound things!

Mary Rosenblum

And I would add an addendum to that: If you want to begin, all you get is older.

loriendil

Most publishers don't have a slush pile anymore -- they only accept agented submissions. But how does one find what agents might be interested in what you've got? As you say, the Writers Market is only a general indication of what they are looking for.

Mary Rosenblum

You can still submit 'over the transom' to SF and fantasy -- at least most publishers -- lriendil.

Mary Rosenblum

Finding an agent is a bit more scattershot unless you can get to a SF con, or subscribe to Locus.

Mary Rosenblum

One of the details Locus includes is a list of what books have sold this month, to which publisher, and it names the agent.

Mary Rosenblum

This is a great way for you to find out which imprint is buying what and who is agenting that work.

Mary Rosenblum

That narrows your search.

Mary Rosenblum

Or go to a con and ask writers whose work you like who their agent is, if they are happy. They may recommend you to their agent if you have been chatting and hit it off.

Mary Rosenblum

I've sent several people to my agent.

coway

do they have like booths, or everyone just walking around?

Mary Rosenblum

There are panels at a con, coway.

Mary Rosenblum

Usually three or more going at a time. Many more than that at the huge yearly World Con, where people come from all over the globe...thousands.

Mary Rosenblum

It's in Boston this year, Scotland next year. Everyone from the publishing world attends these.

loriendil

Thanks! I'm definitely investing in Locus! What is 'over the transom?'

Mary Rosenblum

It's worth the 60 if you're serious about writing SF or fantasy.

Mary Rosenblum

Over the transom means unagented...sent in by you.

Mary Rosenblum

To subscribe to Locus, send a check for 60 to Locus Publications, PO Box 13305, Oakland, CA 94661

smeagol

Mary, do you attend Dragon Con in Atlanta? I've been only once. Would you recommend it? Any conferences you would recommend? My favorite is Marcon in Ohio.

Mary Rosenblum

I haven't been to dragoncon, smeagol. I generally get to the east coast cons only for WorldCon.

Mary Rosenblum

It's too expensive, unless they invite me as a guest of honor and pay my way.

Mary Rosenblum

Balticon in Baltimore is a large con that draws a lot of NY publishing people.

Mary Rosenblum

World Fantasy Con for fantasy writers is a wonderful con.

Mary Rosenblum

I go when it's in my half of the country and I have the disposable income!

vmaroukian

mary, once you find an agent/publisher, do you send them all your work or switch if you feel you have written something outside their area of interest.

Mary Rosenblum

vmar, this is a good question. When you acquire an agent, that agent will handle ALL your novel length work unless otherwise specified.

Mary Rosenblum

I have a friend who writes SF and is branching into mystery. Her agent is not really familiar with the mystery market but will not handle only the sf.

Mary Rosenblum

So my writer friend will either have to find another agent or let this one handle the mystery, too.

Mary Rosenblum

You have a contract with your agent.

Mary Rosenblum

Read it and think about it before you sign it!

coway

what if you write a SF novel, and also an autobiography,,,still same agent?

Mary Rosenblum

This is something to consider when you are searching for an agent.

Mary Rosenblum

If you plan to write in multiple genres or in fiction and non, you need an agent -- probably part of a large agency...

Mary Rosenblum

who can hand off those other genre books to a subagent in that field.

Mary Rosenblum

A small, single-agent agency may not work well for you.

Mary Rosenblum

Some of the big ones include Richard Curtis and William Morris.

Mary Rosenblum

They include a LOT of agents in multple genres.

coway

So I should ask them ahead of time, instead of talking about just one of the novels when deciding/

Mary Rosenblum

Absolutely! A reputable agent who does not know nonfiction editors should tell you so.

loriendil

LOL Believe me, I'm serious! I have years in backstory and history as well as novels in a series... But not much knowledge as to marketing yet....

Mary Rosenblum

Certainly, loriendil! The market changes every month! What was a glut this year, may be the hot seller next year. Go on to the next novel and set this one aside for awhile...BUT...

Mary Rosenblum

I sincerely hope you are not basing that on one agent's opinion?

Mary Rosenblum

Just because someone is an agent or editor or published author does not make them RIGHT.

Mary Rosenblum

More likely to be right, yes, but not absolutely right.

Mary Rosenblum

You might sell that book to the next agent you query. HIS editors aren't flooded!

Mary Rosenblum

What you need to realize is that each agent is buddies to a bunch of editors.

Mary Rosenblum

They have lunch, the editors take the agent's author pitches seriously.

Mary Rosenblum

The agent you queried was thinking of his buddy editors.

Mary Rosenblum

That may not apply for other editors.

loriendil

What can one do when an agent says they're interested but feels the market is too flooded? Is it all right to query them again in say six months or a year?

Mary Rosenblum

Oops...here's the question I was just answering.

Mary Rosenblum

My fingers are getting tired!

coway

You mean different meetings with panels? sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by panels

Mary Rosenblum

Panels at a con are teaching sessions, coway.

Mary Rosenblum

You might have three editors talking about getting through the slush pile.

Mary Rosenblum

The audience asks questions.

Mary Rosenblum

They are like the forums I do here.

Mary Rosenblum

Only live.

Mary Rosenblum

You get opinions from three to six professionals who sit up there and argue and answer quesitons. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

You can learn a LOT.

Mary Rosenblum

I think I"m going to call it quits for tonight. I'll see if I can schedule Gardner later.

mrsdesktop

How does one become an editor? I want POWER! ;)

Mary Rosenblum

Go to work for rotten pay for a publisher, mrs, desktop! Or start your own magazine!

Mary Rosenblum

Most editors started out doing menial tasks for publishers.

mbvoelker

Thank you Mary. You always rise to the occasion when there is a glitch.

Mary Rosenblum

It turns out, mb, that I'll be doing the ICL forums for the next two Tuesdays. ON TIME!

Mary Rosenblum

I PROMISE!

Mary Rosenblum

This HAS been the week for glitches!

Mary Rosenblum

Friday, I'll be talking about editor etiquette at the After Hours.

Mary Rosenblum

What to say in your cover letter, how to approach an editor at a conference, when to query about a response, and the like.

Mary Rosenblum

My next guest...the powers that be willing!..is Michael Arnzer, who

Mary Rosenblum

writes poetry, horror, does small press publishing.

Mary Rosenblum

He should be an interesting guest.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm curious to hear what he has to say about the effect of his poetry on his prose and vice versa.

Mary Rosenblum

Do drop by the casual chat here tomorrow .

Mary Rosenblum

No topic...just a fun time talking about whatever.

Mary Rosenblum

Have a good evening. I'll go ahead and post the transcript of the session. SF 101!

Mary Rosenblum

Good night, all

Mary Rosenblum

See you on the website!

Mary Rosenblum

smeagol, he is the Gorelets guy

 

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