Friday, October 19, 2007

Dinosaur Moment

When I first started breaking into the business of writing F&SF I was fortunate enough to meet and by mentored by a number of Big Name Authors. I am eternally grateful to those folks and that's part of why I'm here with the other Wyrdsmiths doing this writing blog thing. There's not a whole lot I can do for the BNAs who helped me out, but I can pass on that help to the folks who are climbing the mountain behind me.

Those BNAs gave me a huge amount of good advice on the craft of writing, and a great deal of good advice on the business of writing post-first novel offer. The one place where I had to carefully filter the advice I was getting was in the area of landing that first sale. This is because the world of publishing has been changing at astonishing speed over the last thirty years or so, and advice that was stellar then (whenever then may be) is sometimes simply invalid for the newbie unpublished writer of today. I will occasionally (and entirely goodheartedly) call this stuff dinosaur advice-magnificent in its time, but not such a great idea now that all these nimble little mammals have started cluttering up the scene.

In my class last night someone asked me a question about getting a start in writing by publishing with small presses. In that instant I knew that I had just had my first dinosaur moment–I'm sure I'll have more. I know that small press is changing the face of the industry and I'm pretty certain that it's going to change it much more radically in the very near future. There are quite a number of small presses that are doing great work, getting books in distribution channels, winning awards, and giving their authors exposure they just couldn't get elsewhere. So far so good. But in terms of submitting to small presses, their relationships with agents, and even where to find that kind of information I am totally clueless. In short those darn whipper-snapper mammals are changing the face of publishing and me–big old dinosaur that I am–I don't understand the rules of the new game.

Fortunately, I've got a start on learning those things all lined up. Catherynne M. Valente is going to be guest blogging here on the 5th of November and talking about the move from small press to big New York house, which will help give me some insight into the process.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Pointers to great small press info?


lydamorehouse said...

Soon I can tell you all about moving in the other direction, too. (I hope!)

Anonymous said...

Move over, old man. Up with whippersnappers!

Oh, and thank you for all of the advice.

Kelly Swails said...

New school teachin' the old school tricks! :)

Right now two of my three published pieces have been in small press anthologies, and I hope to have more credits with them in the future. Small press is great for a quick-turnaround time (from acceptance to publication). A downside is that small presses are sometimes so small they don't pay well (or at all). As for how much creed these credits lend my resume, that remains to be seen.