The Geomancer


Lou is Omnivoracious

Over on Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, an interview with Yours Truly conducted by the great Jeff Vandermeer and regarding Fast Forward 2. Here's a taste: When you edit an original anthology series where you solicit stories only, how do you protect against mediocre material creeping in?

Lou Anders: The very wise Jacob Weisman, editor and publisher of Tachyon Publications, once said that when selecting illustrators for book covers, you shouldn’t pick based on the best work in an artists portfolio, but based on their worst. Because, he said, you had to be willing to live with the worst piece in the portfolio if that is what they hand in. That’s one of the most helpful pieces of publishing advice I’ve ever encountered, and it rules all of my own cover art decisions at Pyr. But it also has applications to editing invite-only anthologies. As much as I’d like to, I can't do open-reads anthologies and still fulfill my job as Editorial Director of the Pyr science fiction and fantasy line. There just aren’t enough hours in the year. But I love the short form and I want to always work in it, and so I must do invite-only. Therefore, I believe very strongly that the moment of editorial discernment falls at the point of the invitation. The best piece of general business advice anyone can give you is this hire people smarter than you are and listen to them. I believe, firmly, that I am working with some of the best writers in the business, and I trust them to deliver. I avoid mediocre material by avoiding mediocre writers!


  1. The book sounds cool and having enjoyed some other Pyr books I might have to pick this one up.

    Seeing an interview with Amazon makes me wonder - Any chance of future Pyr releases on the Kindle?

    Thanks! Jeff

  2. Well, I certainly hope you do, but I am (understandably) biased.

    re: Pyr Kindling - I'd say there's a very good chance. Stay tuned!

  3. That would be great! You'd have some purchases from me for sure. Keep us in the loop!

  4. Absolutely. There are seven titles being converted for ebook formatting now. We'll do a press release when the ebooks arrive. I'm very excited.

    Meanwhile, I'd love your feedback on the Kindle - what you like,don't like, etc... Any and all thoughts appreciated.

  5. Personally, I think it's great. I've read about alot of the knocks on it - buttons too big, awkward shape, etc... but none of those things have bothered me.

    Pluses - It fits your hand perfectly, text is easy to read, the battery lasts a really long time(as long as you don't always have the wireless on), after 2 minutes you forget your reading on a electronic device, I get the NY Times everyday for less than what it used to get just the Sunday Times delivered, Access to all the public domain Classics is free, you can get on the web for free!?!, buying a book is amazingly simple and quick, and book prices are currently extremely reasonable.

    Cons - Price(I was lucky enough to have some people go in on one for my birthday), Amazon does not let you to buy books from other ebook vendors if they use DRM(people can get around it, but you end up on some rather shaky ground), the selection, although not bad, still has a way to go.

    Overall, the pros vastly outweigh the cons if you have the cash to spend on it. The wireless breakthrough is what really made it worthwhile.

    Glad to hear Pyr is looking to release some ebooks. I'm hopeful for Chris Roberson's End of the Century for the kindle.

    If you don't mind I have a question for you. Is it relatively easy to get something submitted to sell for the Kindle? Or a a pain, with lots of formatting, conversions, etc... on top of everything that you have to do to get the print version out? I'm just wondering what might keep other publishers from releasing things for the Kindle. Thanks!

  6. I've thought about picking one up to read manuscripts on. I understand there is like a 10 cent charge to convert word documents to Kindle format? It's not easy being green, but if I could get agents to only send me electronic submissions, I could cut out a lot of wasted paper, but it would need a really comfortable reading platform and a very low conversion cost. (I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to convert manuscripts I end up rejecting!)

    The web access is just to the download site and related? Or can you actual surf the web like on web-enabled phone? I'm curious too about the eReader software for the iPhone and about the new G1 phone from Vorizon with Google's Android.

    I'll pass on your enthusiasm for the Roberson (and personally I think it's his best book yet). Speaking of Roberson, and to answer your question, I don't think it's a pain at all. Kindle just announced a way that anyone can publish directly, and Chris was able to take his old novel, Cybermancy Inc, to which he holds the rights, and have it up and for sale on Kindle in about 15 minutes.

  7. The 10 cent charge to convert is only if you want the file sent to your Kindle wirelessly. Otherwise you can do it for free by connecting your kindle to your computer and dragging the file onto it like you would a USB drive.

    Or you could have them send the manuscript as a mobipocket file and as long as there's no DRM you don't even need any conversion.

    You can surf the web. It's not color and doesn't handle pictures great, so the iphone is probably better on that end but works great with text sites like wikipedia and other news sites or rss feeds. Even better there's no charges to go online.

    I'm not sure where you are but on Amazon's Kindle page they have something set up to connect with people who already own a Kindle in your town. That way you can put your hands on one and see if it's worth it before buying.

    Having almost any book at my fingertips in this little package makes me feel like I'm finally living in that SF future I've seen in books and movies.

    I'm still waiting to crack open my copy of River of Gods, it's a little bulky for the commute, but I've got Peter Hamilton's massive Night's Dawn trilogy on this tiny gadget with room left over for 300 more. Crazy!

  8. Fascinating. You don't mean stores that stock kindles but actual customers who are willing for strangers to come ask them about it?

    I got to play with my buddies eReader on iPhone and thought it was reasonably comfortable too. And I hear you about the future. I still can't get over the fact that the music of every CD I have ever bought since the 80s is now in my pocket.

  9. Yup, just regular folk who will meet up with you at a starbucks or someplace like that.

    Cell Phones, MP3 players, they all seemed like logical extensions of existing technology. Ebook readers really feel like a huge leap past the paper book which has been basically the same since the printing press.

    Good luck with your search. It sounds like this tech would be a real bonus in your field.

    And hey, now even Oprah endorses the Kindle! Nowadays that's what pushes something over the tipping point.

  10. If only Oprah would read some SF beyond The Road.

    Seriously though, if she'd read another Pulitzer Prize winning genre author, Michael Chabon, and have him on, then HE could praise SF&F on her show, and that would do some good.

  11. Anonymous10:02 PM

    "There's a gorilla on the cover."

    Indeed there is. A vastly vroomingly fast forwarding one.

    Think that's my fave quote from the interview...


  12. In the playground of my imagination, that gorilla stars in his own comic book. I think he's the DNApe. But he could be Sgt Simian.

  13. Anonymous10:00 PM

    And of course John Picacio would be doing the covers for that comic book series, right?


  14. How could it be otherwise?