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ORDOVER

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Dec 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/7/98
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I'm going to take one last shot at being heard clearly. Please try to read
what's actually there, and not read into it something that isn't:

1) If you are writing fan fiction for the fun of it, more power to you.
Everyone needs a hobby. Enjoy. I may not get why you do it, but I don't
understand why a friend of mine collects ceramic kittens, either, and nothing
says I have to.

2) If you want to be a professional writer -- by which I mean someone who gets
paid to write -- there are things you have to keep in mind:

a) It is not a good idea to set your sights or hopes on a media tie-in novel,
for a number of reasons:

First, because there aren't very many of them and most of the slots have gone
to regulars already. It is much, much easier to sell an original SF or Fantasy
novel than to sell a tie-in novel. I know there's a perception out there that
runs along the lines of "I'll get my feet wet writing a Star Trek novel, and
then move on to my own stuff." Just on a pure numbers basis, it should be
clear that it's easier to sell an original number, because fewer people are
shooting for about 30 times as many slots as are found in media fiction.

Second, with your own stuff, you have a chance that if editor one doesn't like
it, editor two will, or editor three. My story ALL FLESH IS CLAY, which
appeared in Weird Tales, was bought by the sixth editor who looked at it (after
it was rejected at F&SF, As. It has since gone on to be picked up for
MASTERPIECES OF HORROR: BEST HORROR STORIES OF THE LAST TEN YEARS, so go
figure. With media tie ins, you have ONE editor to show your stuff to, and if
they don't like it, you're out of luck. And that doesn't even take into
account the approvals you'll need from the owners of the media universe.

Third, and most importantly, because you won't make a "name" for yourself
writing for media tie-in lines. See, the sales of media tie-in novels don't
carry over to the sales of the author's other books. What you want is for
-your name- to become a brand name, like "John Grisham" or "Stephen King" or
"Orson Scott Card." That will never happen if you write under a "brand name"
like Star Trek, Star Wars, and X-Files. It is much better for you to strike
out on your own, career-wise, than even to successfully sell a media-tie-in
novel.

b) IN MY HUMBLE OPINION - which is shared by every editor of novels or pro
magazines that I know of -- writing fan fiction does not provide the type of
fudemental learning experience necessary, in the end, to writing original pro
fiction. Please note, Alara Rogers agrees with me on this. Since time is
precious, if you want to be a pro writer, spend your time on original fiction.

c) What does being a pro writer mean? It means you can convince an editor
somewhere that your stuff will sell well enough to justify paying you for the
right to publish it. That's all. So your goal is to figure out what pro
editors are looking for, what signals to them that your book will sell, and
writing and posting to .creative groups is not going to teach you that.
Example: My sales are skyrocketing upward at the momment, yet the gang here is
telling me I'm doing everything wrong. Clearly, they aren't going to provide
you with feedback that will help you produce the kind of writing that I know
will sell, and that I am therefore likely to buy.

d) So if you want to be a pro writer, what should you do? First of all, write
and finish a short-story at least every two weeks, and then mail it to an
editor who can pay money for it. If the story comes back, send it to another
market, and so on and so on. The momment you mail out one story, go back to
the keyboard and write another one. Take classes if you can find one taught by
a pro writer. Start a writers group in your home town. Above all keep writing
your own stuff until you break through.

...and that's my last word.

John Ordover
Executive Editor
Star Trek Fiction
Pocket Books

For more Trek Book Info:
www.startrekbooks.com

Ann Zewen

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Dec 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/7/98
to

ORDOVER wrote in message <19981207142040...@ng-cg1.aol.com>...

>I'm going to take one last shot at being heard clearly. Please try to read
>what's actually there, and not read into it something that isn't:
>
>
>c) >Example: My sales are skyrocketing upward at the momment, yet the gang

here is
>telling me I'm doing everything wrong. Clearly, they aren't going to
provide
>you with feedback that will help you produce the kind of writing that I
know
>will sell, and that I am therefore likely to buy.
>
>d) So if you want to be a pro writer, what should you do? First of all,
write
>and finish a short-story at least every two weeks, and then mail it to an
>editor who can pay money for it. If the story comes back, send it to
another
>market, and so on and so on. The momment you mail out one story, go back
to
>the keyboard and write another one. Take classes if you can find one
taught by
>a pro writer. Start a writers group in your home town. Above all keep
writing
>your own stuff until you break through.
>


Actually, John, I agree with *almost* everything you've said here, and I
don't disagree completely with the couple of points I do take issue with.
However, I *would* like to comment on a couple of points above:

c) I don't think you're doing everything wrong with your pro novels. I
*have* complained, a while back but not in recent threads, about the
apparent lack of adequate editing on some of the books (both those published
by your house and others) that seem to be riddled with errors --
typographically, gramatically and in characterization/continuity. But those
are nitpicky points and are at least in part the result of my own editing
training and profession. I've said that, for the most part, *I* don't like
the books you're publishing these days, but that I understand *why* you're
publishing them and that, from a marketing standpoint, you're doing the
right thing. It would be nice if I could find the kind of character
development and philosophical approach to science fiction in Trek books that
I like, but if that's not what your overall market wants, then so be it.
I'll just look elsewhere (fanfic for Trek and non Trek for pro novels) for
what I want and pay attention to people whose judgment I trust to let me
know when there is one of those rare Trek novels out that I'm likely to
enjoy.

d) This is fine for people whose professional aspirations are to write
science fiction/fantasy. Mine are not. And there aren't many short-story
markets for the kind of fiction I'm interested in writing as novels. The few
markets that might be interested in short stories in my preferred genres
nearly always buy their short stories from already established writers, so
the professional short story market isn't much help to me.

As well as the pleasure of using Trek fanfic as a hobby, I use it to polish
those aspects of my writing that I feel need work -- i.e., improving on my
description of setting and, in general, polishing and developing my own,
individual style.

In the meantime, I *am* working on my own, original novels, creating *my*
characters and putting them into real settings that are appropriate to the
stories. But writing fantasy/science fiction short stories is *at least* as
alien to the type of professional writing that I want to do as is writing
fanfic. Making sales? Maybe. But in fanfic I can manipulate the genre to
deal with the same kinds of issues I want to write about elsewhere instead
of compromising my style to fit what's expected by the various short-story
markets of science fiction/fantasy. There are particular types of stories
that those magazines want, and what I write ain't it. They aren't interested
in it. But Randy is, and so are my many other friends and readers in fandom.
So Randy publishes my fanfic while I devote other time to developing what I
hope one day will be professional published novels. And I've built a circle
of writing friends who are willing and able to give me serious critique of
my work -- not just as fanfic, but as fiction in general. I trust them and
respect their opinions, and they're the people I listen to when I want to
know if something I've written accomplishes what I wanted. Don't get me
wrong; compliments from readers in general are nice, but they're dangerous,
too, in that they can make you think that you're good enough and can get
lazy in your writing. I value the criticism more -- at least that that's
intelligent and well thought out. And through fanfic I have found people
willing and able to give me *that* kind of feedback that I haven't found
elsewhere.


--
Ann
"Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." _ Dennis Miller


Randy Landers

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Dec 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/7/98
to
A brilliant response, Ann. Thanks!

And for the record, I have no desire to be a professional writer (or
editor, btw) of any sorts. I'm a Star Trek fan, and I have stories I
want to tell, and I want to share them with my readers. I also have
stories that I have read and edited and selected to share with those
same readers. I also have had the pleasure of sharing material read,
edited and selected by others, such as Ann and Laura, with those same
readers.

Some of my contributors, such as BEKi, Ann, Donna Frelick, Holly
Trueblood, aspire to be professional writers. And her time spent in
writing fan fiction is NOT a waste, but an exercise. She writes so
little fan fic nowadays, spending more and more of her time on
pro-fic. And she's following in the footsteps of others who preceded
her: Peter David, Carmen Carter, Jean Lorrah, Jane Hambly, MS Murdock,
Joan Winston, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sonni Cooper, Kiel Stuart, Linda
Baker, to name a few. Star Trek fanzine writers who are moving on to
the professional realm of publishing, leaving Trek behind. They do not
do so with disparaging remarks; they do so with a fondness for the
unique experience zines gave them.

If you want to be a professional author, John's probably quite right
about much of it. But the attitude behind many of his statements (such
as the one about Steve Barnes: "nyah, he didn't write for fanzines")
is pathetic and unworthy of anyone claiming to be a Trek fan. I would
hope that anyone claiming to be a Trek fan knows not only of the long
history of fan fiction, but could actually appreciate the value of
that fan fiction.

Randy Landers
ORION PRESS


jtr...@coinet.com

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
I've been lurking on most of these threads for a while now, and have to say
(despite the fact I think everyone involved has got a valid opinion), I think
John Ordover is being incredibly helpful as far as his tips for pro writing
go, and the inside glimpses to the industry... not that I'm planning on
writing a Star Trek novel anytime soon. I tend to take the view that any
hints, tips, dos and don'ts you can get your hands on are gems.

Jon - lurker-at-large

In article <19981207142040...@ng-cg1.aol.com>,


ord...@aol.com (ORDOVER) wrote:
> I'm going to take one last shot at being heard clearly. Please try to read
> what's actually there, and not read into it something that isn't:
>

> Example: My sales are skyrocketing upward at the momment, yet the gang here
is
> telling me I'm doing everything wrong. Clearly, they aren't going to provide
> you with feedback that will help you produce the kind of writing that I know
> will sell, and that I am therefore likely to buy.
>
> d) So if you want to be a pro writer, what should you do? First of all, write
> and finish a short-story at least every two weeks, and then mail it to an
> editor who can pay money for it. If the story comes back, send it to another
> market, and so on and so on. The momment you mail out one story, go back to
> the keyboard and write another one. Take classes if you can find one taught
by
> a pro writer. Start a writers group in your home town. Above all keep
writing
> your own stuff until you break through.
>

> ...and that's my last word.
>
> John Ordover
> Executive Editor
> Star Trek Fiction
> Pocket Books
>
> For more Trek Book Info:
> www.startrekbooks.com
>

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

Zeborah

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
Mr Ordover, I agree with pretty much everything you've written here;
although I do like to think that some of the fanfic I've done was good
practice for playing around with things like point-of-view, the main
reason I've largely stopped writing fanfic (apart from a couple of
collaborations with my sister) is to be able to devote more time to my
"real" writing.

Just one point, though:

ORDOVER <ord...@aol.com> wrote:

> d) So if you want to be a pro writer, what should you do? First of all, write
> and finish a short-story at least every two weeks, and then mail it to an
> editor who can pay money for it.

Some writers can't write short stories. This isn't a Bad Thing, it's
how their mind works. For them, they'd get nowhere if they start out
with short stories, but might do great with a novel. I personally am
working on some shorts and some novels, but I prefer the novels, I
think.

>If the story comes back, send it to another
> market, and so on and so on. The momment you mail out one story, go back to
> the keyboard and write another one. Take classes if you can find one taught
> by a pro writer.

Yes, yes, and for the third one, "Yes, as long as the classes aren't
just procrastination." While you're taking the classes, and between
classes, keep writing.

>Start a writers group in your home town.

Or on the internet if your home town is tiny. (I love the net.)

>Above all keep writing
> your own stuff until you break through.

Absolutely.
And if anyone's interested, there're various newsgroups for writers,
including one that focuses on issues to do with writing and publishing
science-fiction -- rec.arts.sf.composition, which is where I mostly hang
out these days.

Zeborah

Birgit Schindlbeck

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
jtr...@coinet.com wrote:
>
>I've been lurking on most of these threads for a while now, and have to say
>(despite the fact I think everyone involved has got a valid opinion), I think
>John Ordover is being incredibly helpful as far as his tips for pro writing
>go, and the inside glimpses to the industry... not that I'm planning on
>writing a Star Trek novel anytime soon. I tend to take the view that any
> hints, tips, dos and don'ts you can get your hands on are gems.
>
> Jon - lurker-at-large
>
Thanks, Jon, you just said what I was thinking all the time. :-))

Birgit

ORDOVER

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
Randy Landers said:


>>Some of my contributors, such as BEKi, Ann, Donna Frelick, Holly
Trueblood, aspire to be professional writers. And her time spent in
writing fan fiction is NOT a waste, but an exercise. She writes so
little fan fic nowadays, spending more and more of her time on
pro-fic. <<

Which is -exactly- what I am advising everyone who wants to be a pro writer to
do: "write...little fan fic nowadays, spending more and more time and more of
[your] time on pro-fic."

Glad to see you agree that's the best way to pro publication.:)

ORDOVER

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to

Birgit<<<

Thanks, guys! Truly, I'm only trying to guide those whose dream is to become a
professional writer. Those who don't have that dream can do whatever they
want, no skin off my nose.:)

Birgit Schindlbeck

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
ORDOVER wrote:
>
> >>>jtr...@coinet.com wrote:
> >
> >I've been lurking on most of these threads for a while now, and have to say
> >(despite the fact I think everyone involved has got a valid opinion), I think
> >John Ordover is being incredibly helpful as far as his tips for pro writing
> >go, and the inside glimpses to the industry... not that I'm planning on
> >writing a Star Trek novel anytime soon. I tend to take the view that any
> > hints, tips, dos and don'ts you can get your hands on are gems.
> >
> > Jon - lurker-at-large
> >
> Thanks, Jon, you just said what I was thinking all the time. :-))
>
> Birgit<<<
>
> Thanks, guys! Truly, I'm only trying to guide those whose dream is to become a
> professional writer. Those who don't have that dream can do whatever they
> want, no skin off my nose.:)
>
You know, I always wanted to become a professional writer. Only that
over here in Germany, I think it's even more difficult than in the US.
AND then there's that little problem about me not being albe to think of
my own characters, world, etc... I hope I'll manage some day. :-)))

Birgit

Randy Landers

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Dec 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/8/98
to
John says

<<Glad to see you agree that's the best way to pro publication.:)>>

*sigh* I never said it wasn't. I said that a number of your writers
started in fan fiction. You have stated:

1) GR hated fanfic. (1991, GEnie)
2) Prowriters hate fan fic. (Dec. 1998, Usenet, asc)
3) None of your prowriters have written fan fic. (Dec. 1998, Usenet,
asc)
4) Fan fiction is a "collosal waste of time." (Dec. 1998, Usenet,
asc)
5) Sales indicate the quality of writing. (Sep. 1998, Usenet, asc)

The folks on this newsgroup (and on GEnie) have repudiated each of
these statements repeatedly and forcefully. You are simply wrong in
these matters.

You've now decided to claim that all you've ever meant to do was to
instruct us unenlightened mortals on how to write profic...

(Of course, you've got dozens of posts on several different threads,
so it's been hard to keep track of everything you've said...)

And you won't get much argument from me on any of your tips. I've
never had any desire to be published (well, except for way back in
1974 with a submission to New Voyages). But my joy is writing,
reading, editing and publishing fanzines.

As long as you don't impugn fan fiction, you'll get no problem with
me.

--
Randy Landers
ORION PRESS
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