Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Black Library Card: changes good and bad

(Conan the Librarian)

Part One of my two part strategy to break into the publishing world this year (apart from the usual channels I am still using to little effect) is to try and get my foot in the door at the Black Library.  This means proposing a few short stories and hoping to get one published (or all of them, that'd be nice too).  But when I looked at the BL site today I saw changes!  They've streamlined the way they take submissions, mostly for the better (completely for the better for them). 

1) The window of opportunity has officially started a month early, and will end a month early.  Good news there is I don't have to wait anymore, bad news is I have less time to work on things.  But that hardly matters because...
2) They barely want anything in the submission anymore.  All they really need is a short sample of 500-1000 words.  No complete story, not even a summary or synopsis of a story.  They assume there is a story lurking in the background somewhere, for now all they want is a snapshot of what you can do.  Then, if it interests them, they'll ask for more.  This is of course a huge time saver for them, since they probably get thousands of submissions every year from all over the world.  And a time saver for me too: now I don't have to write out the whole story, or even a synopsis of one (though I'll still have that ready on my end in case they need it).  So it saves me time too.  Of my 3 to 5 short story ideas, I now need not develop any of them!  That's bad, really.  It's also generally bad that we now have one 500-1000 word shot at getting their attention and that's it.  No matter how detailed your ideas, they don't want to know unless your writing can pull it off.  And really, I guess that makes sense, and makes for easier screening.  Why flood the in-box with long submissions if you can tell in the first few pages if you're even going to read the rest of it?  So, good and bad...
3) Also, this is the last year they'll entertain novel proposals.  I suppose they have enough authors already that they don't really need more from the likes of us, though they are still open to new faces, which is nice.  I may try to write up one of my handful of 40k novel ideas for a proposal by the June 30 deadline (though the dire Doubter says, why waste your time?).  The good thing about this though--and they obviously recognize it too--is that we hopefuls aren't expected to write a whole novel which only one publisher in the world can print.  They just want the first few chapters and an outline of the rest.  Then if they're interested, they'll work with the author to develop the entire book.  That's good, because it'd suck to spend a year of your life writing a book and have them turn it down.

So now, my short story package is just about ready to launch (since it's so much simpler to put together).  I hope this works.  It'd be a great honor to join the ranks at the Black Library (and a great way to start an expanded writing career).

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