Thursday, September 15, 2016

Burning Bridges and Small Press Stockholm Syndrome

So, the point of discussion this week is on burning professional bridges-- when is it time to do that?  Now, for me, this is a mostly theoretical question.  I'm rather pleased with my agent and editor, thank you very much.   And why wouldn't I be?  My editor won the Hugo for Best Editor for the very year my novels debuted.  My novels are connected with a Hugo win.  See?  I have proof.
OK, mostly I want to show off that photo.  But, for real.  I'm happy.
But there can be good reason to break off a professional relationship with your agent or editor.   Especially if you are suffering from Small Press Stockholm Syndrome.
See, small presses can be really problematic things.  You should really deeply think about what you're doing before you get involved in one.  Investigate closely and ask yourself, honestly, "Are the books these people publish ones that I would buy?"  And if the answer is anything but a resounding, "Of course!"  do not sign a contract.  Do not do it just to be published by someone.  Else you might end up saying something like this:
If [EDITOR] hadn’t noticed us lurking about and convinced us to submit a short story to [ANTHOLOGY], we don’t become professional authors at all.  [EDITOR] took us from nothing–nothing— and made us what we are.
The above quote comes from a defense of a small press publisher who wasn't paying royalties or meeting obligations.  But it's OK, because that publisher loves us and made us!
It's like staying in a bad marriage because they were the first person who showed interest in you.
Look at what your publisher is actually doing for you, and ask yourself-- without getting lost in the sunk costs and the misplaced gratitude: are they really helping you and your career?  Or are they trapping you in their orbit?
I've mixed a lot of metaphors here.  It happens.
In the mean time: tonight (Sept. 15th) I'll be appearing at BookPeople in Austin on a panel about SF&F for the Writers' League of Texas!  Next week I'll be at FenCon!  Come say hello.

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