Friday, March 14, 2014

Inside Baseball

I was reading Larry Correia's blog when I saw him write this about a discussion with his editor, Toni Weisskopf:
I bounced several things off of Toni to see what she wanted me to focus my energy on next, (Having a ton of books under contract to be written is a really good problem to have) and she really wants to see this epic fantasy that I’ve been talking about for years.
This is a glimpse into the relationship between a successful author and editor. It struck me how businesslike the conversation was. Here's the deal, Mr. Correia and Ms. Weisskopf have a common goal: make gobs of money by selling books.

Mr. Correia has a good idea of how to put words on paper that make awesome stories. Ms. Weisskopf has a good idea of the sort of people she can reach and sell books to. Neither one of them have the whole picture, so they compare notes, brainstorm, and try to find out which stories will do better than others.

It's every bit as much a business conversation as one between a General Contractor and a Realtor about building a spec house. I know a few small businessmen and this glimpse of Mr. Correia makes a lot of sense when seen through this lens.

Contrast this with the depictions of authors in the mass media. You never see Richard Castle or Robin Masters talking to their editors like this. The popular conception is that the writer is some kind of free spirit whose creative outputs drop from his fingers in an arbitrary and capricious fashion as his muse takes him.

NO, the successful author is a successful businessman who builds things on spec, if s/he doesn't have a book deal, or to spec if s/he does. Most businessmen are normal people who relate to their vendors and customers who also happen to be normal people. And unless there's trouble, normal people conduct business with each other in a pleasant and cooperative fashion.

Once you've figured out how to devise a cunning plot, fill it with dazzling characters, and render your stories in breathless prose, think about how you can be a reliable business partner. This includes communicating clearly, meeting deadlines, and exceeding your partners' expectations.

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