Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Remember when Danny Partridge slipped a tape player under Reuben Kincaid’s toilet stall?

by Rob - February 5th, 2010.
Filed under: Publishing.

An email I sent this morning:

My little line of books can only publish Canadian authors, so there’s nothing I can do for you. But, trust me, hyping your book as a “mass market dream” and hoping that it’s somehow going to drive sales that you started writing as a teenager are statements that will just turn other editors off. They hear hype like that all the time, and what you’re actually doing is insulting: it’s their job, not yours, to assess the market potential of a manuscript; why tell them their business?

Seriously, you say you’re a chemistry student, so you must understand something about the need to present data to support claims — and you’ve presented none, just fervent hucksterism. It’ll work on no one.

And, for God’s sake, saying, “I completely understand that this is probably not how you normally talk with authors, but I feel the query process really doesn’t show how motivated and serious I am about my work” and so just going ahead and bypassing how it’s normally done, is wrong, wrong, wrong. The only way publishers can deal with the volume of manuscripts they receive is by having an established process; if you choose not to participate in that process, you’re dead from the start.

Biggest problem with your proposal? Science fiction and fantasy are separate categories; mixing them willy-nilly makes your book hard to market (later in your career, you can do whatever you want; early on, you have to be categorizable). Choose one, write the best book you can, and submit it exactly and precisely according to the publishers guidelines. I wish you the best of luck.

Robert J. Sawyer online:

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