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i will not publish your book

As a corollary to "I Will Not Read Your F*cking Script" by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Josh Olson, and to "What to Know Before You Ask Me to Read Your (Unpublished) Work" by John Scalzi, I would like to offer my own slightly different take on the subject.

I will not publish your book.

Janet and I have been running Two Cranes Press since 2003, and in those six years (especially after the release of Scattered, Covered, Smothered in 2004 and A Field Guide to Surreal Botany in 2008), I've received many queries both by email and in person for me to publish someone's book. Many times this is done without a proper understanding of what we have published, or even what kind of books we have published.

As it says on our site, "Two Cranes was set up to publish speculative fiction -- collections of weird short writing, to be precise," yet I've heard from people who wanted me to look at historical novels, memoirs, poetry, children's books, and science textbooks (among others). First of all, this shows an incredible laziness; our website is easy to find, and a cursory examination of the four books we've published in those six years gives a very clear indication of not only what types of books we publish, but also which genre, all of which reinforce our mission statement (brief as it is). We frankly don't know the markets for those other genres and types, and would be clueless as to properly marketing and publicizing in those arenas.

But still, even after saying an original "no," I'll get the occasional, "But if you'll just take a quick took at it, I'm sure you'll love it," after which I register those email addresses as spam. Not taking the time to comprehend what kind of books the publisher who you're querying actually publishes shows lack of professionalism and teh n00bishness, and further pestering said publisher = FAIL. This includes ignoring the note on our Contact page that reads, "Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts."

But besides that, even if you have a short story collection that fits what we like, I still will not publish your book.

Again, look through that (small) list of our titles. Every single book we have published was conceived of by Janet and me. Our first chapbook contained fiction by both of us, poetry by me, and artwork by her. Our second book was edited by both of us (even if only my name was on the cover). Our third book came about because of a personal relationship with Daniel Wallace, and a desire on my part to collect some of his stranger short fiction. Our fourth book was edited by both Janet and me again, although it was Janet's brainchild, and she did the lion's share of the work on the project. A pattern is certainly evident here.

I have many friends in the sf community whose fiction I would love to publish as either a chapbook or collection. Perhaps if I had more time or resources I would do so. But the fact remains that I currently don't have the time or resources to publish a chapbook or collection of my own fiction, let alone anyone else's. I wish that things were different and that we were able to expand beyond our cozy little niche, but this is not in the cards for the foreseeable future.

I wrote this post because of the confluence of the above articles with a very recent experience I had at a shopping mall cafe two days ago. I had parked myself in one of the cafe's comfy chairs in order to mark some papers (yes, I'm still having to do this during the term break, when I should be vegging out instead), and the man next to me asked if I was a teacher. He had a North American accent (I found out later he was from Toronto), and had moved with his wife and two boys to Singapore only a couple of days beforehand, and they were looking at schools. I talked to him quite a while, relaying the experience I'd gained in my time here, and after some time his wife joined us. It was a pleasant (if a bit exhausting) conversation, and at one point I brought up Surreal Botany; almost immediately afterward, rather than asking me about the book or the publishing process, the wife mentioned that she had written a children's book and wondered if I might take a look at it, at which point I had to explain much of the above (although more politely, as she was an otherwise nice person).

So please, if you're considering pitching a book to Two Cranes Press, don't. I wish you all the best with it, but I will not publish your book.



( 7 circumlocutions — Add to the Intelligent Discourse )
Sep. 12th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
Dude, I'm sorry you even have to say this. And the comments on the Olson article were. . .something else. Where did people get this "but I'm sooo special, so the rules don't apply to me" mentality, anyway?
Sep. 14th, 2009 09:12 am (UTC)
It's a sense of entitlement that has erupted with the surplus of creative writing classes and MFA programs and writing books over the last 30 years or so. Once the idea is out there that anyone can do it, certain folk feel that they deserve publication, or in Olson's case, free advice.
Sep. 12th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)

Despite the fact that there has been a big bold notice on the home page of the WP website since February that says I am not open for submissions of any kind, I still get at least one query every day. The queries are mostly entirely inappropriate even if I was open.

People who can't be bothered to read guidelines -- or anything else -- are not worth our time. I do not reply to these queries. I delete them unread.
Sep. 14th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
I still read them. And then I delete them.
Sep. 13th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
That reminds me - I've written this children's book about two cranes that work on different buildings in the same city and fall in love. Will you publish it? :-)
Sep. 14th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)
Urge to kill rising... :)

Although I have to say, that would probably be a bestseller in Singapore. There's a joke that the national bird is the crane, not the bird but the one you mention, since the country is under constant construction.
Sep. 14th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you were amused.

Someone, somewhere, I bet, keeps having this book rejected.
( 7 circumlocutions — Add to the Intelligent Discourse )

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