Monday, June 14, 2021

Science Fiction Publishers Do Not Want Your Memoirs of Garrison Duty at Petawawa

The Blitz of London. science fiction publishers do not want your memoirs of the Blitz either.

 I belong to a so-called military organization that is actually a private non-government society for veterans, serving officers, and some civilians (No, it's not the Legion. This one has better beer.). There are a lot of military history buffs in this organization, and of course, some of them want to write books. Some of the members know that I write science fiction, so inevitably, they ask me how to get their book published.

One of the conversations ran like this:

UNPUBLISHED WRITER: I heard you got a book published recently. I want to talk to you about the publisher.

 ME: Why?

 UNPUBLISHED WRITER: I want to write a book. I want you to introduce me to the publisher.

 ME: Is it science fiction?

 UNPUBLISHED WRITER: No. It's a memoir of my childhood growing up during the Blitz of London.

 ME: The publisher won't be interested in it. It publishes only science fiction.

 UNPUBLISHED WRITER: Can you talk to them about publishing my memoir, though? They should expand the type of books they publish.

 ME: No, they won't. They've published only science fiction and fantasy for 40 years. They've never published anything else.

 UNPUBLISHED WRITER: You won't know until you try. Talk to them.

             ME: Why don't you try to a publishing company that publishes military history or historical memoirs?

            UNPUBLISHED WRITER: Do you know anyone in those publishers?

            ME: No.

            UNPUBLISHED WRITER: Then talk to your sci-fi publisher. Get them to publish history books.

I did not talk to the publisher about expanding its product line just so this guy could publish his book about the Blitz. And shockingly but maybe not surprisingly, he was just one of several members of this distinguished organization to ask me to get a science fiction publisher to publish their history books.

Here's the hard truth: DAW, Baen, Del Rey, and any other science fiction publisher do not want your memoirs of garrison duty at Petawawa (or Borden or Shiloh or anywhere else). They do not want your 1,000-page analysis of the Prussian-Austrian War of 1866. They do not want your book about bomber aircraft of World War II. They do not want your history of ships' badges of the Royal Canadian Navy (or any other navy).

They're also not interested in books about divorce and family crises, corruption in government, assault rifles, or anything else that is unrelated to science fiction and fantasy.

Science fiction publishers want only science fiction and fantasy. Don't waste my time or their time by trying to get your irrelevant book to them. And don't ask them if they know any publishers who would publish your book. Publishers, editors, and agents tend to have snarky opinions about wannabe writers who don't do their homework.

Do your homework: research the writers' markets and look for publishers that might want to see your type of book. Do you know of books about similar subjects? See who has published them. And for the love of God and yourself, find out and follow their submission guidelines.

You have to do your homework by yourself. Nobody is going to hand you a publisher on a silver platter. If you survived nine years in the Canadian military, you can figure out how to find publishers of books like yours.

And if you didn't do any time in the military, still do your homework. There are no exemptions for civilians.

Note: the conversation about publishing the Blitz of London book occurred in 2010. The book has still not been published.

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