I'm a big fan of Gollancz list ("Duh!" I hear you say, as Pyr shares quite a few authors in common with that wonderful UK imprint). Well, the folks at SFX have been running a series of interviews with authors, publishers, and editors on how to write and sell your fiction, and here they are interviewing Gollancz editor Gillian Redfearn and editorial director Simon Spanton, and here they are talking to editorial director Jo Fletcher.
Great advice in both interviews, and I'm down with all of it. Some of my favorite bits:
SFX: So what's the most powerful lesson you've learned about the writing business in the time that you've been working in it?
Spanton: "Being good isn't good enough - you have to be excellent or at the very least good and very different. The hardest rejections are when you are so close to being publishable you can smell it, but you have yet to take that final step. And the step you need to take may very well be different for each and every editor you send your work to."
SFX: What's the biggest mistake that inexperienced writers make when trying to get into the SF scene?
Fletcher: "Not reading enough, either in the genre or outside. If you don’t know what’s gone before, you don’t know what’s really an original idea. If you’ve not read much SF, you might think building an elevator to the moon is the coolest idea ever – and not realise that one of the world’s most successful SF writers ever had that particular idea 30 years ago – Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise was published in 1979... and Charles Sheffield's first novel, The Web Between the Worlds, also published in 1979, features the building of a space elevator. Robert A Heinlein's novel Friday, published in 1982, has a space-elevator type construct, the Nairobi Beanstalk, Larry Niven’s Rainbow Mars, a few years later, has a Hanging Tree, an organic Skyhook. So it doesn’t mean you can’t use that idea, but you do need to use it originally – and even if you’ve never read Fountains of Paradise, for example, you can bet your bottom dollar that a great many of your potential readers will have, and may well think you’re ripping off a master, even if you’re doing it unknowingly."
SFX: Should an author be encouraged to write what they love, or what sells? Fantasy does well at the moment, so does that mean an aspiring author should keep his nose out of hard SF?
Redfearn: "Write what you love. If you don't love it, why should anyone else?"