Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Writing Week 2(35)

Hi all,

I’ve finished editing chapter seven of Stalking Tigers – that’s if I can resist the temptation to go back to the start of that chapter and go through it again. I can always find something to change. The chapter ended up 1500 words longer, so much for cutting it back.

I am thinking about dropping out of and devoting my critiquing efforts to just KSP, where I am waiting for someone to put up the first few chapters of a science-fiction novel, rather than start critiquing mid-novel.

I had a look at the Conflux virtual mini con, an online speculative fiction forum, held over last weekend. James Minz, a senior editor with Baen Books who also worked at Del Rey and Tor Books, had some interesting comments.

He was asked: what makes a gem stand out from the slushpile? He said “it's all about the storytelling. If there's strong story, the rest is negotiable. Don't get me wrong, you don't know how to use the English language properly, you're probably doomed, but after that it's all about making the reader want to turn the next page. At Baen…I am looking for strong plot-driven stories with heroes you just want to root for. We're about spaceships and dragons and guys in doublets jumping a motorcycle over a group of 17th Century rabblerousers.”

So I don’t think Stalking Tigers would be a good fit for Baen. Although it has a strong plot, it is probably more character driven. It is not an action novel, it is more of a psychological drama/thriller.

He was also asked: how hard is it for a non-American to break into the American scene? He said “honestly, it can be a plus. Having a Canadian, or an Aussie, or a Brit could potentially help a publisher to get the novel distributed into more places, i.e. it's not easy to get US publications into Aus, but having an Aussie writer can open that door. The only real barrier would be if there too much colloquial use of Aussie English (not the spelling stuff--that's not a big deal at all, but turns of phrase that don't translate culturally, that kind of thing.)”

Someone asked: How lucrative is the epublishing market? Is it really the way of the future? He said “the vast majority of our business is still traditional publishing, but we do very well with electronic publishing. Very. Well. (btw, Baen has been selling ebooks via the internet for more than a decade at this point.) ‘Is it really the way of the future?’ Sort of. Yes, but with HUGE Caveats.”

Richard Harland used his appearance to help launch a website with 145 pages of writing tips for speculative fiction writers. I’ve only had a brief look, so I can’t tell how useful it might be yet.

Unfortunately, a few of the guest writers seemed to have problems with the technology.

I came to the forum late, but would probably not have asked any questions as I don’t have any pressing questions for writers, editors or publishers. At the moment I just want/need to concentrate on writing, critiquing and reading.

I’ve managed to get through the past five days without freaking out about my eyes. I just hope there’s not too much drama with getting the cataracts quickly removed.


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