Saturday, May 2, 2015

Have You Got a Story to Tell? Tor's Looking for You if You're the Right Sort of Person. [UPDATED]

On Friday Morning announced that they had once again begun taking submissions for novellas. Now when I was growing up all of my favorite authors were seemingly being published by Tor; so when I saw this I was pretty excited. But you know there's something odd about this announcement. 
 At this time, we are particularly seeking science fictional novellas of all varieties. Lee Harris is particularly interested in space opera, time travel thrillers and interesting new approaches to classic science fiction themes, while Carl Engle-Laird is seeking near-future science fiction and technothrillers that trace their lineage from cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, as well as space operas with the sense of grandeur and mystery that remind readers of the closeness between space opera and fantasy. We will also be happy to accept fantasy and urban fantasy stories, though we will be prioritizing the SF submissions.

In addition, both Lee Harris and Carl Engle-Laird actively request submissions from writers from underrepresented populations. This includes, but is not limited to, writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class and physical or mental ability. We believe that good science fiction and fantasy reflects the incredible diversity and potential of the human species, and hope our catalog will reflect that. (Engle-Laird)
That bold text up there appeared in the original posting that hit the web on Friday. 

I'm sure that putting that out there was specifically aimed as a blow in connection to the Hugo Award controversy that's going on right now but . . . to my eye it reads like they just wrote, "We want anyone except for you cock swinging, lady breeding, crackers."  Which is, like, the weirdest thing I've ever read. I mean we're talking about a company that publishes books and that wants to make money, right? Shouldn't their goal be just the best stories regardless of the author's race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, physical or mental ability? Why should they give a flying fuck if I'm a black, transsexual, woman who's also an atheist or if I'm a white, straight, guy who's also a Muslim? Shouldn't those things be secondary to whether the story is any good?

You might think I'm alone in this reading of that paragraph but I'm not. When this first came up in my Twitter feed this morning I passed it along to a really talented author I know who deserves to get a break and find himself published by a big company. He was excited when he first heard about it and then it all went away as he finally ended up declaring, "There's no way. They want it from underrepresented populations." 

That completely sucks. 

See this is the tangible result of these controversies we keep throwing ourselves into with such wanton disregard for their consequences. Sides dig in, and suddenly their political agendas become more important than just putting out the best product. These last few years have been overly political with people on both sides of the aisle trying to force their agendas on everyone else and it's clearly a pox on all our houses. Just think how many times you've seen someone one write, "You can't work with this person they're toxic," or "Don't dare associate with her. She believes the wrong things."

I've lost count. 

I am so very tired of this nonsense. We are living in the 21st century. We are on the cusp of electromagnetic engines that can let us travel to Mars in weeks. We have computers that can store more books on their hard drives than any 100 people could read in their lifetimes. I can communicate with people across unimaginable distances and see them on my computer screen in real time. We have a space station and laser guns! Why the fuck are we still letting ourselves be sidetracked with this bullshit?

[[EDIT 5/2/2015 5:40 PM EST]] After talking about this issue with +Russ Morrissey and +Matthew B I've come to the conclusion that I over reacted to the bold text. Most likely I was projecting my own insecurities onto their statements since I actually want to be published one day by one of the big book publishers and I want the people I like published too.

Please accept my apologies for my overreaction and for talking to you with my head shoved firmly up my ass. I'm sure it was hard to hear me clearly when I was so muffled. ;)

Works Cited
Engle-Laird, Carl. " is Open to Novella Submissions!" 5/1/2015. Web.


  1. We want to publish stories nerds will be talking about 50 years from now would be a better standard to shoot for wouldn't it?

  2. Open call submissions are exciting but also highly frustrating. A lot of times, companies have "open calls" simply for the purpose of making their audience THINK that they have a shot of participating, too. This was true FOR YEARS at Marvel and DC. But you didn't learn it until you started reviewing professionally, making actual contacts in the industry, etc.

    The editors are well aware of the number of dreamers in the world, and they want to keep those dreamers as active customers. Believe it or not, open calls are critical to this mission.

    Truth is, if you want to get published by a big company, it's like getting any other job. You have to start by networking, and working your way up the ladder. Meanwhile, to quote Bendis, "Writers write." If you want to be a writer, no one is stopping you. However, EVERYONE wants to be a writer, which is why it's so damned hard to stand out from a very, very crowded field. As the economic increasingly becomes automated and/or moves overseas (and as journalism slowly dies as a profession), this becomes even more true. So... write if you want to write, but don't expect anyone to read your stuff. No one reads in the 21st Century because everyone wants to be a creator.

    1. "No one reads in the 21st Century because everyone wants to be a creator."

      That's perfectly said, Holmes.

    2. Thanks. I write, y'know.
      (that makes me part of the problem)

  3. Too late, Charles, the die has been cast! It's gonna be Baen or nothing for you now. ;)

    1. Ha! I don't think so.

      I've never been one much for brand loyalty. Author loyalty, now that's an entirely different matter altogether . . .


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