The Geomancer


No, spelled "Y, E, S"

Thanks much to Lou for inviting me to participate in this blog. My name's Ari Marmell, and while I've been writing for a decade, I'm still learning how to navigate the ins and outs of publishing. Up until a couple of years ago, most of my writing was freelance work in role-playing games while I tried to build up my fiction chops. I've done some shared-world fiction, tied to the Vampire: the Masquerade, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: the Gathering games, but my first wholly original novel, The Conqueror's Shadow, is just coming out this coming February from Spectra.

Any way, all of this is by way of saying, I'm still learning how to interact with editors and publishers. So when I hear "Gee, I really can't buy this book from you, but I like your work and I'd like to do something else with you," I tend to see the "Can't buy this book" and not really the rest of it.

(We writers are a neurotic bunch at the best of times.)

Thankfully, Lou decided to prove me wrong.

See, the novel that he's publishing--The Goblin Corps--wasn't the first book of mine that he saw. My agent first sent him another fantasy novel that simply wound up being too short for Lou to be comfortable publishing. That's fair enough, but I'll admit that, even though he raved about it and specifically said he wanted to work with me on something else, I didn't have a lot of hope when we sent him TGC. Yet, here I am, a new member of the Pyr stable. (Neigh. Winnie. Snort.) And very happy to be here.

Funny thing is, that's actually how I got my start with my freelancing, too. I submitted a book idea for the Vampire: the Masquerade roleplaying game to White Wolf Publishing. Not a proposal, the entire book, which I'd written in my spare time. The line developer at the time, Justin Achilli, couldn't use the book itself, but he liked it enough to hire me on for something else.

All of which means that I should probably start being more optimistic, and start believing people when they say "I can't use this, but..." I should--but then we're back to the whole "writers are neurotic" bit.

But if any of you reading this are up-and-comers, looking at selling your first work, consider this a gentle bit of support: Sometimes "No, but..." means "but" more than it means "no."

Thanks for the reminder, Lou.


  1. Clay Griffith9:35 AM


    Nice post. Look forward to reading your book. I agree with you on editor's responses. "No" often means "No, but try again". In the comic book world, I found that if an editor sends a personal rejection rather than a form letter or no reply at all, it's because they see something in your submission that they like. If they say, "This is good but I can't use it." that's what they mean. Otherwise, they'd say nothing. So keep trying!

    of Clay and Susan Griffith

  2. We never ever ever ever ever ever ever say anything but no when we mean no. "I'd like to see something else" means exactly what it means. This is even more true in the short fiction markets, where the flood of submissions is colossal. You never encourage anyone you don't want to see again because you are in constant danger of drowning. Very glad you listened even if you didn't believe.

  3. Congrats, Ari. Can't wait to read your book.

    Pyr-stable powers, activate!

  4. Lou: Oh, I never doubted intellectually that you meant what you said--just emotionally. Like I said: neurotic. ;-)

  5. Welcome to the team, Ari. Interestingly enough, I got my start writing with White Wolf as well. I got that job by sending (brace yourself) a short story to the developer for Wraith. A short story! What the hell was I thinking? Anyway, it got me a contract, and then another...

  6. Tim: That'd explain why your name was ringing a bell. :-)

    At the time, I really saw the RPG work as nothing but a stepping stone to doing fiction, but now I'm glad I spent several years doing it. My fiction has improved a *lot* with the additional years of practice, and working on the RPG books really taught me a great deal about working as part of a creative team.

    It also, in a bizarre, roundabout way, helped me get The Conqueror's Shadow published over at Spectra, but that's a longer story for a medium other than comments on a blog post. ;-)