WriteTip: How To Hire An Editor

The following is an excerpt from my book How To Write A Novel: The Fundamentals of Fiction, Chapter 13, slightly modified for this blog.

As a professional editor, one of the questions I hear most often from writers and others is how does one go about finding and hiring a good editor. So today’s tip addresses that challenge.

First, it’s important to know the type of editor you need. This diagram breaks down the types of editing a writer may encounter or need:

Most writers will be hiring either Developmental, Line or Copy Editors for their book. Not every editor does all of them, but some do more than one. I do all three and frequently do Developmental and Line Editing together as a package because they can be combined easily. Copy Editing is a separate pass requiring different focus and skills. Proof Readers are also quite useful, although many people find volunteers who are helpful and cost effective.

If you need to hire an editor on your own you will need to do some research. For information on standard rates, check the Editorial Freelancers Association for a list of average rates here:https://www.the-efa.org/rates/. For individual editors, they should have their rates on their website as well as a list of clients they have worked with and even quotes recommending them. For me, I’d ask some of the clients about them as well as friends to see what kind of reputation they have in the community. Then most editors usually offer a sample edit to demonstrate their skills for free (usually a page or two, maybe a chapter). Submit your work to several for samples and then compare them when you get them back. You can also reach out via social media to authors you admire asking for recommendations. Most of us have been there and will be happy to point you in the right direction toward finding a good, reliable editor—one we’ve worked with or who has worked with friends. Be sure and search bookstores and online for books in print that they’ve edited and check the quality and who published them. This kind of information tells you their level of success and skill as well as their taste, which can be important, as well as their knowledge of genres. You definitely want someone knowledgeable in the genre in which you are writing to help you navigate market expectations, tropes, and other genre-specific concerns.

Once you’ve found an editor or two you are interested in, ask for full quotes and discuss their cancellation fees, timeframe and deadlines, and how they deal with cost overruns, if any. You’ll want to be sure in advance you are not charged for extra time without permission, whether they do extra passes or just one, etc. Then choose your editor and get a contract. Make sure the contract outlines guarantees to you, not just the editor. Usually there will be clauses about payment schedules, how they deal with non- or delayed payments, etc. as well as a delivery timetable. All of this is important to have in writing to avoid conflict later, as these tend to be the areas where most misunderstandings and conflict occur between freelance editors and clients.

After that, you send them you book and get started.

I would expect a decent editor to need between three weeks and six to edit the average novel well (80,000 to 130,000 words). More if your book is longer. I would also expect them to send you regular updates on the progress and even provide the first half around the time any second payment is due, so you can get an idea of the quality of their edits, usefulness, etc. Editors work for you in this case, not a publisher, so you have total control over what you do with their edits. That’s why it’s very important to hire an editor you trust and enjoy working with, then trust their judgment enough to use their advice. Your editor’s job, whether freelance or in-house, is to help you make your book the best it can be. If you succeed, they look good, too, but most of all, you look good, because your book is your reputation, your calling card. The editor has no motivation to ruin your book with bad advice or to sabotage or hurt it. So the advice they give is always intended to help, whether it hurts your feelings or not. There is a need for your editor to be somewhat blunt—though most try to point out strengths as well as weaknesses and use a sense of humor in doing so to soften the blow—so that you get a sense of how readers will react and can really dig into the issues properly. Remember, it is not personal nor is it an attack. They are all about helping you. They are on your side. So take their comments seriously, ask questions as you have them, and try to find a way to make them work if at all possible, never dismissing them entirely out of hand.
There will be times when you disagree. Some of those will be over things that are per choice, up to you. Personal taste or preference may be a part. Good editors will admit this and explain their reason for making the editorial suggestions. These are the edits you should decide if you agree with and want to do. In other cases, edits are absolutely necessary. These usually are edits about clarity and understanding, facts, character motives, story holes, story pacing, mood, tone, emotion, etc. and should be considered very carefully and every attempt made to find a solution you can both agree on, even if it is a compromise. Remember that we all have weaknesses and strengths and the writing process is a journey. Everyone wants to best book possible and is working toward that goal, because a great book makes us all look good. Keeping that in mind should make it easier to take criticisms, even when they sting or confuse, and put you in the right mindset to trust and work with your editor as a partner, not an opponent.

Ultimately, once your book is edited, it is ready to go on to formatting, copyediting, and proofing. And those stages will involve more edits, but generally focused on repetitive words or phrases, grammar and spelling errors that slipped through, italics and underlining, house style, punctuation, etc. If the items are house style, they are nonnegotiable. Everything else can be discussed and considered, but, of course, if the grammar is wrong unintentionally or you have misspellings, you need to fix them. Accuracy matters to readers and critics. It is about professionalism and presentation.

I find the editorial process with some clients can be like pulling teeth, but with many it is pure joy. I enjoy very much watching writers gel with their material as things come into clearer focus, get stronger, and take on that sparkle they always envisioned in their minds. There’s real joy in watching a good book become great and seeing the pride the author takes in it and the success that follows. I feel very much a part of that, as well any editor, and if you find a good one, hold onto them and treasure the relationship. It is like finding gold.

Introducing Boralis Books, a new small press

Some of you know I’ve been working on a new project with friends called Boralis Books. Boralis Books arose out of my frustration with New York publishing rejecting strong, well written page turners because they “didn’t know how to market them.” It’s happened to me several times and I know other authors have experienced the same frustration. So I decided to publish some novels myself, and to me, the best way to do it is to create a press and recruit staff—editors, proofers, designers—and try and put out quality product that rivals New York quality books.

Eventually, Boralis Books will release titles by multiple authors: novels, anthologies, collections, maybe a few novellas too. But for now, it is starting with three near future procedural thrillers by me. Every project will depend upon the success of prior projects for funding, so the initial plan is to release three books a year, one every four months, and see how it goes. Books will be released in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebooks—with audio to come as available. All books will be distributed via Ingram Sparks so bookstores anywhere can stock them if they desire, with ebooks initially exclusive to Kindle and then expanding from time to time to other mediums. We will, of course, also set up a Boralis Books store for selling the other formats as soon as we can.

For information on what we have so far, please check out Boralis Books at www.boralisbooks.com, a work in progress for sure. As more authors and projects are chosen, we will post information there. We will not be doing open submissions at least initially. I don’t have the time or resources to review them adequately and keep up with other plans. But we leave open that option for down the road.

Meanwhile, we plan to publish both speculative fiction and mystery/thriller with a few others possibly mixed in. We hope you’ll check out what we’re doing. Our first release will be Simon Says, the firs in my John Simon thrillers, which is Bosch meets Lethal Weapon with robots. It’s filled with action, strong memorable characters and humor and set in 2029 Kansas City, with a tough Luddite cop teaming with an android witness to solve a nanotech crime and his partner’s kidnapping. Future books will follow.

As always, launching a small press is a challenging endeavor, but having edited numerous novels and short stories, I hope I am up to the task with a lot of friends for support. Our editorial staff includes Guy Anthony Demarco, an MFA in Creative Writing, who also does our interior design. A.R. Crebs will be our book trailer and cover designer and artist, though we may employ others as time goes on. I also have some proofers and a few others as well.

Be sure and check us out. Simon Says is up for preorder now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold!

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/simon-says-bryan-thomas-schmidt/1133948927?ean=9781622257508

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1622257502/

DoDecaCon Schedule, September 16-18, Columbia, MO

dodecaconbtspicThis weekend, I will be a Special Guest at Columbia, Missouri’s ComicCon:  DoDecaCon. Fellow guests include New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller.

Here’s the layout of booths. I will be at Special Guests Table 2. (click to enlarge)

dodecancon16layout

My panel schedule is Saturday only, with the following two panels:
2:00 PM Special Guest Q&A with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, John Jackson Miller and D.A. Roberts-Main Stage
3:00 PM Writing in an Established Universe with John Jackson Miller-Panel Room A

Barnes and Noble, Columbia, will be selling my books and I will sell others at my table. To help me out, please buy my Baen books from B&N then come have me sign or personalize. I will likely do signing times each day at B&N as well (TBD). The rest of my books will be on sale at my own table, Special Guest Table 2.

Look forward to seeing you!

Bryan

Forthcoming Works & WIP Release Schedule 2016-2017

As I revise this site and get back to blogging and regular updates (soon, I hope), I thought I could start by updating you on my various forthcoming projects and works in progress and their release dates (as I know them).

So here they are. As you can see, 2017 will be my busiest year ever as not only editor but author, too.

Forthcoming works 2016:

the returning cover front WFPTHE RETURNING: Author’s Definitive Edition, (Saga of Davi Rhii Book 2) (WordFire Press), August 23, 2016

 

 

 

X-Files_Secret_Agendas“Border Time” by myself and Kate Corcino in THE X-FILES: SECRET AGENDAS, edited by Jonathan Maberry (IDW), September 27, 2016

 

 

 

Forthcoming in 2017:

Baen logoLITTLE GREEN MEN–ATTACK!, Coedited by Robin Wayne Bailey (Baen Books), March 7, 2017 includes “The First Million Contacts” by myself and Alex Shvartsman

 

st martins press logoJOE LEDGER: UNSTOPPABLE, Coedited by Jonathan Maberry (ST. MARTINS), 2017 includes “Instince (A Ghost Story)” by myself and Claire Ashgrove

 

Baen logoMONSTER HUNTER Anthology, Coedited by Larry Correia (Baen Books), 2017 includes “Hoffman Strikes Back” by myself and Julie C. Frost

 

Titan Books logoPREDATOR: THE HUNTED (Working Title) (Titan Books), October 2017 includes a story by myself with Holly Roberds

INFINITE STARS: A Definitive Space Opera Anthology (Titan Books), November 2017

THE EXODUS (Saga of Davi Rhii Book 3) (WordFire Press), TBD

“The Greatest Guns In The Galaxy” by myself and Ken Scholes in STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMBSTONE, edited by David Boop, (Baen Books), TBD

Schedule: 2015 Longview Literary Festival, Metropolitan Community College

This year, Claire Ashgrove, my Finish The Story editing partner and I are guest speakers at the Longview Literary Festival in Lee’s Summit.  Here’s our schedule for the day, which is Friday, October 23, 2015.

 

TIME  CAC 114 – READINGS CAC 116 CAC 118 BLACK BOX THEATER
10:00 a.m.   Editing 101: A Workshop by Claire Ashgrove and Bryan Thomas Schmidt    
 
11:00 a.m.       Panel Discussion:  Working with Small Press:  D.L. Rogers, Sean Demory, Marshall Edwards, Bryan Thomas Schmidt
12:00 p.m.  Closed for Keynote Speaker  Closed for Keynote Speaker Closed for Keynote Speaker Keynote Speaker – Claire Ashgrove –Writing Contest Winners Announced
 1:00 p.m.   Closed for Featured Speaker Closed for Featured Speaker Featured Speaker – Bryan Thomas Schmidt
 
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Bryan and Claire at Vendor Table  
4:00 p.m.       Panel Discussion:  Editors are NOT the Enemy:  Claire Ashgrove, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Sara Lundberg
 

5:00 p.m.

Bryan and Claire at Vendor Table      
6:00 p.m.  Closed Closed Closed Closing Remarks – Announcement of Winners of Contests Occurring at The Festival

On My First Best Editor, Short Form Hugo Nomination

Space Battles front web sizeSo I got nominated for a Hugo for Short Form Editing. Wow. Found out two weeks ago and it surprised but thrilled me. I didn’t campaign. A group of people deemed me worthy and nominated me. Since nominating people you think are worthy is how the system works, I didn’t say a thing, except thank them for their confidence and wait to see what happened. I know I was nominated by people who are not Sad Puppies because they told me. Several, in fact. Some were Sad Puppies, but most who told me were not. The only thing I know is I have worked very hard and this is a major achievement and career moment, and it is unfortunate some people are choosing to attempt to spoil that. I just discovered April 8 that I am was on a slate called Rabid Puppies. I would have demanded removal had I known but I didn’t know it existed until nominations and had no clue who was on it. I don’t associate with the person running that campaign and am deeply disappointed by how he conducts himself and his presence on the slate. I deeply regret this but there is nothing I can do.

Thing is: forever on I am a Hugo nominated editor. The only change. I will do what I’ve always done: strive to make the best books possible. From the beginning I have worked hard to do so, by picking the best new and old pros I can find to write stories, seeking diversity in the pool from right to left, white to POC, LGBT to straight, etc. With a diverse pool in place, I then pick the best stories and hope what I get reflects that well. So far, I think it has. It has varied, of course, but that is the way it goes for every editor. Still, when you want to make books with broad appeal to a broad and diverse readership, that is the only way to do it right. I have always believed that, no matter what some detractors may say. Taking someone’s ambiguous statements and twisting their interpretation does not make them fact.

Beyond The Sun revised coverA few figures of my anthologies so far:

SPACE BATTLES
11 male writers
7 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
6 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

BEYOND THE SUN
9 male writers
9 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

RaygunChronicles front displayRAYGUN CHRONICLES
14 male writers
11 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
Not sure of the political alignments but some each stripe

SHATTERED SHIELDS
1 female co-editor
10 male writers
7 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
10 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

And none of this reflects the content itself which includes diverse subject matter and stories.

Don’t believe me? Go check the Tables of Contents posted online. Research it yourself. 3 of these were edited solely by me. I made all decisions. The last was co-edited by my fellow nominee Jennifer Brozek. We made decisions jointly in full. She has written about it on Locus.

Shattered Shields coverThe stats on my 9 forthcoming anthologies are not finalized so I can’t post them but these are the works that got me to where I am. The last is the one that qualifies me for a nomination.

I have spent a good portion of my life working with the disadvantaged from poor to non-westerners to LGBT. I have friends I love of all stripes. Anyone who actually knows me will tell you I do not discriminate. I also avoid kerfluffles unless I am dragged in. And even then I try to be gracious. My philosophy is treat others how you want to be treated. Help people when you can. And live and let live.

I take pride in having accomplished all these things. A number of writers have made first sales to me, including Anthony Cardno, who is gay, for example. Many have gotten to find new audiences and appear alongside their writing heroes. I love that I can make that happen. Getting to work with my heroes is part of the thrill of doing this as well.

I love diversity. Don’t believe the critics. I always have and I seek it out. It is the single best gut check I know for keeping me honest and widening my point of view to see outside the box in which I live. That’s so important that I seek it out. I don’t have to agree with everyone to listen to them. But hearing how they see the world makes me see it bigger. Makes me better.

From day one, it has been a privilege to make books and I only seek to serve the SFF community as best I can. It’s such an honor to be a part of it (most days). And I really am humbled that I get to do what I love. If I get rewarded for that with awards, that will be mindblowing. But make no mistake. I did not campaign for awards. I just try and do good work. And I will continue to do so, hoping people will give it a fair chance.

To the nomination voters, thank you for your confidence in me. Sorry for the uproar. Don’t let it spoil the moment if you can. You made me part of science fiction history. It’s so amazing, and I am truly grateful. Now, may the best person win, whomever they are. I leave it to the works.

Bryan


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, and Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen Books with nine more forthcoming, including Gaslamp TerrorsMission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration (BAEN), Galactic Games (BAEN), Speculations KC, and several others.  A Junior Editor for Wordfire Press, he acquires and develops books of all kinds. He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

 

Why I Am An Editor

Shattered Shields coverI became an editor for three primary reasons: 1) I love reading stories; 2) I love working with and discovering new writers; 3) I like helping others. For me, editing combined all these loves, so it seemed a natural fit. After all, I could get a chance to work with my heroes and legends as well as up and coming and new writers who are legends yet to be, and in the process, have fun and make some really interesting books, giving great, diverse stories life.

I’ve interviewed a lot of editors, and I think most of them said some combination of the above as well.

But for me, it also stems from years spent working with nonprofits to help artists from different backgrounds and cultures come together and create art and be heard. There’s no greater gift you can give an artist than a chance to share their voice, I think. And it’s such a joy helping them polish and refine their work, giving them a venue and audience, and watching them shine. I found it very addictive. So addictive that when one camp I was working with moved cross country, I created my own nonprofit and started doing the work in other ways, taking it across the world to Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and other places, usually places where such training is too expensive or too elite for the poor, and focusing our work on artists denied those opportunities. Doing that work was life changing and has forever shaped by beliefs, my life, my goals, and my art, and I continue to long to find ways to do more of that work in the future. So anthologies and editing had natural appeal.

Beyond The Sun revised coverAnd the first anthology opportunity proved to be a challenge for sure, but also a whole lot of fun. It’s as much of a challenge sometimes attracting writers to trust a new editor as it can be for writers to get a shot, and I wound up short on submissions and thus late on deadline, but this did give me a chance to work with some writers to improve their stories. There were at least three that made into into the final book after such collaboration. Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, the end result is a book I’m proud of. It’s not as good as the books that followed in some ways, but the reviews have been solid and it’s a fun read, and above all, when creating anthologies, I want to create fun reads. For me, reading should be fun. Science Fiction and Fantasy should be fun. Above all other concerns.

So creating opportunities for authors has been a huge part of what I got into this to do, thus, when I didn’t have the editorial credibility quite yet, I looked toward Kickstarter and put together Beyond The Sun, somehow being lucky enough to get four of my writing heroes as headliners. That experience proved yet another great one and shortly after that Kickstarter, friends from a Canadian small press approached me with the idea for Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age, and so a few months later, we Kickstarted that with even more big names. That was my biggest anthology yet.

Again, the highlight of both of these was working with writers. Even as the fanboy in me thrilled at getting to work with Silverberg, Rusch, Kress, and more, I enjoyed seeing the up and coming writers’ eyes light up and the chance to be in a book with such luminaries as well. I enjoyed working with them to develop stories, polish them, and assembling the books, etc.

Then Baen bought an idea I had come up with and recruited Jennifer Brozek to co-edit, the military high fantasy anthology Shattered Shields. Like Raygun,  we had a full on professional budget and this time we were buying all originals. So I had the chance to work for a major publisher for the first time, again, an incredible experience. And despite our different tastes, Jennifer and I wound up agreeing on almost all the stories, the exception being a couple, and, of course, she liked some more than I did and vice versa. Still, a great creative partnership. What a talented lady!

RaygunChronicles front displayAnd having such opportunities to partner with great people is the highlight of being an editor. I just really appreciate that. It’s why I don’t want to work with people that don’t share a mutual respect. Time’s too short. I want to be able to enjoy working together. After all, collaboration should be fun, I think. And it’s why I keep pitching and developing anthologies of various types. It’s also why I wanted to use my credibility to reach out to new voices in projects that might be tougher to find publisher homes for like World Encounters and Enabled, but which still have important subject matters which deserve to be explored.

I love reading. Reading has changed my life. It’s made my world bigger. It’s made me a better person. And it’s opened up possibilities I could have never imagined. As reading amongst new generations decreases in popularity, I also want to create books parents and kids can read and enjoy together, that will provoke discussion and nurture a love of reading and genre. That’s why I always push for an educational accessibility aspect in all my guidelines and books, and why I try and keep content PG13 at worst, so it can reach the largest audience. And my background with diversity and cross cultural encounters makes me desire to include writers of diverse backgrounds and beliefs in every project. Sometimes you are limited by who’s available and who connects with the concept, but I try nonetheless. And I have had some great successes.

In any case, just a few thoughts on why I love being an editor and why I wanted to be one. I admit, I’m hooked now, and I hope I get to continue doing this for a long time to come.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, and Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen Books (forthcoming).  He is currently working on Gaslamp TerrorsMission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration (BAEN), Galactic Games (BAEN), Enabled, and several others.  He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

WriteTip: The Importance Of Writing Rules As Boundaries For Learning Craft

WriteTips-flatSince December of 2010, I’ve been interviewing authors, editors and others almost weekly on craft every Wednesday for SFFWRTCHT, and one of our regular and favorite question is about Best and Worst Writing Advice. It’s always interesting the answers we get. And after hundreds of guests, only a few repeats, it always amazes me how many different answers we get.  In fact, sometimes a repeat guest will answer differently each visit.

But what surprises me sometimes are the harsh rejections of mainstays writing rules like “avoid passives,” etc. I think sometimes experienced writers reach a point where old rules seem more limiting than helpful, perhaps. But I still find and believe, as an editor and author both, that those rules have an important role to play in most writer’s development and growth with craft.

There’s another old adage in entertainment that applies as much to publishing as Hollywood. It goes like this:  “No one knows everything.”

And while it’s true no one knows everything, you do need to know the boundaries before you break them, and writing rules are a great way to learn those.

For example, passives are a weaker form that when employed exclusively or excessively weaken the storytelling and act as telling, not showing. Once you’ve learned how to construct strong sentences, yes, you can use passives effectively, but in the beginning especially, I think learning to write without them is absolutely important and even essential to success.

Another thing about writing rules is that they often outline pet peeves of various people, and some care about one rule more than others. But the value in knowing them is that they tend to help guide you to a stronger path and stronger prose. And they often identify common weaknesses and missteps writers have taken which have hurt their writing, their success, and the appeal of their work not just to publishers but to readers as well. There are differences between writing fiction and nonfiction, between journalism and fiction, and so on. And sometimes fiction rules are helpful if you’re experienced with another form of writing but inexperienced with fiction, as I was.

There’s another adage that gets trotted out too: “Rules are made to be broken.”

You hear people cite writers like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman who have broken rules. And yes, they have and get away with it. But usually they get away with it because the rules are so imbedded into their process that when they stray from them, they do it with such skill that it just works in ways a lesser writer couldn’t manage.  You see, knowing the boundaries so well that they become second nature has advantages, and one of those advantages is that you can later deviate outside them a bit without falling off a cliff.

Let me say it again, knowing the boundaries is necessary before you can risk going outside them. And teaching boundaries is what the writing rules so often taught are for.

As a professional editor of both anthologies and novels, I see people violating the rules all day long. Rarely is it on purpose. Most often it’s because they don’t know the rules or understand how to abide by them. And the result is always sloppier, weaker writer, and a less effectively told tale. ALWAYS. I can’t count how many times a day I have to correct over and over the same errors and explain the same rules. It gets tedious. Sometimes it gets annoying. But it’s the job, and it’s made up for by the pleasure and joy I get in seeing the final polished project overcome these weaknesses and really sparkle and shine.

You can’t be expected to just know everything when starting out. And you won’t learn unless someone takes the time to show you, to explain. So part of my role as editor is to do that for you, gently, but firmly. And I try and do it with a sense of humor, too, to hopefully lessen the sting. But I still have to do it, and you still need to learn the rules.

Just because they seem arbitrary doesn’t mean they are. Just because they can be annoying doesn’t mean you can ignore them.

These rules have developed over decades for good reason. And although they evolve as tastes and grammar and publishing house style guides change, most of them have remained relatively the same for a very long time.

So next time you hear or see your writing hero blow off the rules, don’t take it as an invitation to do so yourself. Your journey is not the same as theirs. In fact, your journey is not identical to anyone’s. Learn the rules, practice them until they become instinct and you can recite them by heart. Learn them until you don’t even remember them anymore, you just do it. Because you’ll be a better writer, that’s what their for. And you’ll be more successful and respected.

And once you have that respect, then you can throw caution to the wind and go crazy. But not before.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012), Beyond The Sun (2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age (2013) and coedited Shattered Shields (Bean, 2014) with Jennifer Brozek and is working on Monster Corp.A Red DayMission Tomorrow, andGaslamp Terrors, among others. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

 

New Blurbs and Reviews For My Newest Anthology Babies — Raygun Chronicles & Beyond The Sun

RC Arc Front coverWe have four blurbs in for my soon to be released pulp space opera anthology so far:

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Wonder, adventure, romance, humor–space opera delivers all of these, and this anthology brings together some of the finest talent in the business. Strange new worlds await. So lower your shields, engage your thrusters, and prepare to jump to warp speed!” — Dave Wolverton, New York Times Bestselling author of Star Wars: The Courtship of Prince Leia

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor Unidentified Funny Objects and Official Ken Liu Hugo bearer

Now I just have been mailing out review copies for Raygun Chronicles. It takes a while, but those efforts for Beyond The Sun have landed us two major reviews and a major podcast appearance this month. The two major reviews are out this week in LOCUS’ October 2013 issue which is THE industry zine and thus a huge boost for us. These are also my first Locus reviews EVER. The first comes from Gardner Dozois, year’s best editor, award winning anthologist and writer:

There’s nothing really exceptional in Beyond the Sun, a mixed original/reprint anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, but it is a fun read, with some solid core SF work, although a similar concept was explored better last year by Jonathan Strahan’s Edge of Infinity. The theme appeals to me, as stories of exploration and adventure in space beyond the bounds of Earth remain one of the foundation stones of SF, but don’t expect to find hard science and rigorously worked-out physics here, as this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, it belongs to the old Pulp Adventure school, where spaceships flit between planets in days and sometimes even hours, and there are lots of exotic alien races to interact with and/or battle with. The best of the original stories here is probably Nancy Kress’s ‘‘Migration’’, a compelling look at the power instinct can hold over even the most rational minds, but also good are Brad R. Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’, Jaleta Clegg’s ‘‘One-Way Ticket to Paradise’’, and Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar Of Brightness’’. There is also solid work by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Mike Resnick, and others, as well as good reprint stories by Robert Silverberg and Jason Sanford.

Also from October Locus, Karen Burnham reviews BEYOND THE SUN for Diverse Hands:

Beyond The Sun revised coverKAREN BURNHAM Beyond the Sun, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-38-5, $17.99, 296pp, tp), August 2013. Cover by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. [Order from Fairwood Press, <www.fairwoodpress.com>.] 

There are many reasons people may want to settle out beyond our solar system: religious freedom, economic opportunity, exploration, contacting other life, or simply the desire to be left alone. A little bit of all of these can be found in Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s broadly themed anthology Beyond The Sun. There are aliens, religious fanatics, soldiers, and plenty of people just trying to get by in this diverse volume. 

One story about going to the stars in search of a simpler life is ‘‘Respite’’ by Autumn Rachel Dryden. In it a more-or-less Puritan couple are trying to reach the main settlement by wagon while the wife is in labor and the local fauna is about to launch into a feeding frenzy. Ann’s internal perspectives on events gives us a wonderfully dry take on a very tense story, and the troubles between her and her husband are deftly sketched. What I found particularly interesting is that the story ends up admiring a particular view of father- hood that is directly critiqued in the anthology’s strong opening story, ‘‘Flipping the Switch’’ by Jamie Todd Rubin. Rubin uses a trope similar to Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to describe a father who is providing for his family but is fundamentally detached from them. The story effectively portrays the increasing tension the man feels as he drifts farther and farther away from his loved ones. 

Returning to religious themes, Jean Johnson’s ‘‘Parker’s Paradise’’ depicts a colony that’s been vastly oversold by its religious leader; the acerbic perspective of a soldier tasked to protect the first contact group makes me want to go read some of her military SF, because this was hilarious. Jason Sanford’s ‘‘Rumspringa’’ gives us the space Amish, with a team of post-humans looking to manipulate an Amish colony through one of their own that went out into the world and came back. ‘‘The Far Side of the Wilderness’’ by Alex Shvartsman depicts a man driven by religious faith to hijack a ship and try to find Earth; his single-minded pursuit leaves him dissatisfied with a most amazing journey. Maurice Broaddus’s ‘‘Voice of the Martyrs’’ gives us an interesting blend of military, religion, and colonization – no easy answers in this one. 

There’s one final story that features a religious colony: ‘‘The Dybbyk of Mazel Tov IV’’ by Robert Silverberg. Unlike most of the stories, which are original to the anthology (there are two other reprints, both from the 2000’s), this is a reprint from 1973. This is the second anthology I’ve read this year that has done this: taking a solid selection of contemporary stories and adding in a cherry-picked story from many decades past. Inevitably, the reprint by an old master (it was a Le Guin story the last time, I recall) blows the others away. Robert Silverberg’s story seems fresher, livelier, and more three dimensional than so many of the stories here – not that any of them are bad, but simply that they don’t get over a bar set that high. Some of them do; I would put Rubin’s story in that category along with Cat Rambo’s ‘‘Elsewhere, Within, Elsewhen’’ (a lovely tale of alien contact that literalizes the metaphor of being trapped in a shell of bitterness and resentment). But it really seems unfair to most of the authors involved. I understand the incredible temptation when you’re offered a Silverberg or Le Guin reprint that perfectly suits your theme, but in a mostly-original anthology I wish the editors would stop and reconsider. 

That said, there are plenty of solid and enjoyable stories here. Various forms of libertarianism feature in Nancy Kress’ ‘‘Migration’’ and Brad Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’. Massive miscommunications with and about aliens feature in Simon C. Larter’s ‘‘Inner Sphere Blues’’ and Jennifer Brozek’s ‘‘Dust Angels’’. Jumping to conclusions is ill-advised in Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar of Brightness’’. Luckily, aliens can be just as quick to misjudge a situation when Mike Resnick depicts them examining our television broadcasts in the concluding story ‘‘Observation Post’’. 

Overall, this is a collection of solid stories in the somewhat neglected outer space exploration genre of science fiction. Post-humans are rare and garden variety humans occupy center stage, which feels a bit unusual these days. I worry that it seems that aliens in this volume are so difficult to communicate with: it often takes personal sacrifice to do so, or something improbably hand-waving to do with biology and telepathy. Compared to Silverberg’s 1973 story, in which communication with aliens is not terribly more fraught than communication with a rival human religious sect, this anthology seems a little discouraging about the real potential for relating to and communicating meaningfully with the Other. 

Nonetheless, these are enjoyable tales with serious themes, worth the time spent reading them.

Lastly, several authors, the cover artist and publisher gathered with me in San Antonio at World Con for Hugo-nominated SFSignal’s podcast as well, and you can find that here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/09/the-sf-signal-podcast-episode-204-2013-live-worldcon-panel-with-the-authors-editor-and-publisher-of-beyond-the-sun/ So lots of new stuff to enjoy.


View More: http://emilymeganphotography.pass.us/bryanBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Statement on Quitting Blue Shift Magazine

blueshift_minicover2013I’ve been delaying this for a month but the time has come to clear my slate.

In August, I resigned as editor of Blue Shift after several frustrating circumsatances.  First, while I and several contributors were paid, in some cases more than we were due, others were not. Ad payments only came after I asked twice about them. I was reassured five times that people were paid. I even provided a detailed pay sheet with who got paid for what and how they wanted to be paid as well as their addresses for contributor’s copies.

When the magazine published in August, I anxiously awaited copies. None came. So I went online and paid for one. That money went to waste. Repeated inquiries brought excuses and then no responses.

I have not had a response from White Cat owner Rick Ferrell Moore in weeks.

Now, Rick was good to me, and his goals are admirable. He even gave me a free laptop, shipped at his expense from Detroit to Kansas, when my laptop died.

But Rick also tried to launch way too many zines at one time, despite several advisors warning against it. And he is a freelance consultant in a very busy industry. Every time his regular business had a crisis, he disappeared. When his managing editor had a life threatening illness, instead of hiring someone else, he decided to do it himself, but it wasn’t getting done. And despite the fact that I like him as a person, I felt forced to draw the line. Because I am a professional. I’ve worked hard to get good writers involved, even big names, and my reputation is at stake when people don’t get what’s due to them.

I enjoyed editing a magazine. So much so that I am planning to launch my own zine soon, details to be revealed at the appropriate time. I enjoyed discovering new writers and working with them. But it must be done professionally and run well, or I can’t be a part of it. And so I regretfully tendered my resignation. I have not heard from Rick since other than one email to say he’d be in touch to wrap up lose ends. I’m still waiting.

I hereby release officially all stories for issue 2 to contributors with apologies for those who wrote specific items for this. I’m sure the stories can find other homes, and I will do my best to find homes for the others. But in the meantime, I felt I had no choice but to part ways and move on to better endeavors, and I hope everyone will understand.

Integrity has always been important to me, and I continue to strive daily to practice it. That includes a philosophy of treating people the way I want to be treated. I got into editing with a desire to help others, in the process not only creating new opportunities for me but for 0thers and getting the chance to work with writers and artists I admire. I plan to continue doing so. My fourth anthology, Shattered Shields, coedited with Jennifer Brozek, will be turned in to Baen soon. And I have more projects in the works with Mike Resnick & Pierce Watters, Cat Rambo, Tim Marquitz, Maurice Broaddus, and Jennifer Brozek. As well as on my own. But for now, my relationship with White Cat Publications is over.

I do hope they can get things together and wish them well. And I thank them for the opportunity to try editing a magazine. I hope to edit more.


View More: http://emilymeganphotography.pass.us/bryanBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.