Today marks the first anniversary of Otherworld Editorial. Yes, really! Believe me when I say no one is more surprised that OE is still a going concern than I am. What started as a dubious experiment to formalize my freelance editing services during a dreary economy has easily exceeded my most optimistic expectations, not only in the number of authors who have sought me out and retained my services, but in the tremendous satisfaction I’ve taken from the work itself. And as anyone who knows me will attest, I’m a pretty optimistic guy to begin with.
Even so, I’m finding I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that Earth has made a complete circuit of sun since I launched OE.
Time speeds up subjectively as we get older. I first noticed this in my late teens. I realized that as one’s past gets longer, common temporal units of measure—months, years, decades—take up an increasingly smaller percentage of one’s total life experience, giving us the illusion of accelerating toward old age. But even though I understand intellectually that this momentum is all in my head, I now find myself taken completely off guard by how quickly this last year has gone by.
Partly this has to do with the inordinate number of career-related milestones I hit during this time. As interest in OE was gaining steam in late 2010, I made my TV debut as a featured participant in a Biography Channel special about the Captains of Star Trek; in late March 2011, I accepted a position on the editorial staff at Tor Books; in May I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a publishing professional; in June I mourned the death of Martin Harry Greenberg, who taught me the importance of giving unknowns a chance to shine; in July my first story in more than two decades was published; and in August I attended my first Worldcon, the premiere gathering of luminaries in science fiction literature, and the venue of the genre’s most prestigious award, the Hugo.
It was an eventful year. And throughout it all, Otherworld Editorial kept going and going, the proverbial Energizer lagomorph.
I’ve never been comfortable boasting of my accomplishments. It doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’m unapologetically proud of OE: it’s allowed me to connect with some pretty amazing and passionate people whose enthusiasm and appreciation for the services I provided has been, to me, the highest measure of OE’s initial success. And as thrilled as I’ve been with the number of clients I’ve taken on over the last twelve months, being told time and again that I’ve made a positive difference to the craft of these aspiring writers has meant much more, validating my belief that helping storytellers is the work I was meant to do.
So a heartfelt thank-you goes out to everyone who entrusted me with their words this past year—those who took a chance on me when there were so many other editorial consultants out there to choose from. I’m humbled by your faith in me.
That was Year One. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. Time for another lap around the sun.
I’m not going to offer up a list of his many awards, honors, and editorial credits. If you don’t know who he is, I urge you to look him up. What I really want to say is that it was Marty, together with then-Bantam editor Robert Simpson, who bought my first story, back before I got my first job with a publisher. That was in the late ’80s, when I was just a grunt at the now-defunct 59th Street branch of Forbidden Planet in Manhattan. Marty visited New York City around that time, and I got to meet him in person. He even took me to lunch to discuss some editorial opportunities he had for me. To this day, I have no idea what he saw in me, but I never forgot his kindness. And when I became an editor myself, I always tried to pay it forward.
I remember Marty as a vibrant, enthusiastic gentleman with great patience and great vision, speaking with pride and excitement about his new baby daughter. I remember the chance he took on me, a novice, and I remember that he was one of the people who gave me my first big break in my chosen profession.
Marty’s passing makes the publication of my new story bittersweet. And when I start the new week at Tor on Monday morning, I’ll remember it was Marty who opened the first door.
Earlier this week, I accepted a position on the editorial team at Tor Books.
For those who may not know it, Tor is a leading publisher of speculative fiction and fantasy, headquartered in Manhattan’s landmark Flatiron Building. I’ll have the privilege of working with David G. Hartwell and Stacy Hague-Hill, two luminaries in the field. I start Monday.
I’m very excited. This is an incredible opportunity for me to broaden my horizons and grow as an editor, doing the work I love.
There’s an interesting conversation about self-publishing going on at The Practical Free Spirit, a blog by Amy Sundberg. Definitely worth checking out. I tend to agree with the comments made by my esteemed friend and colleague, author, small-press publisher, and all around Renaissance Man Lawrence M. Schoen, which he reposted on his blog. I’m curious to know what others think. What say you?
Back when I acquired and edited books on staff at Simon & Schuster, I was frequently struck by how different the reading experience was, going from manuscript to galley pages. Seeing the text designed and formatted, as it would look to paying readers, was always sobering. It crystallized the book, giving permanence to what had previously been fluid.
Flash forward to today, when I face the same experience, squared: The first-pass pages for Vanguard: Declassified are in, and here before me, currently spanning pages 187-277, is the story I wrote, The Ruins of Noble Men, as it will look when (hopefully) others read it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my own words make this sort of journey. Yes, I’ve written plenty of back cover copy that was published, and every six weeks I still get to see the pieces I write for Star Trek Magazine make it into print. But this is different. Crafting fiction is an act of intimacy, and what comes of it is at once revelatory and misleading. Stories are reflections of their tellers, to varying degrees, but what readers may infer from one about the other is anyone’s guess.
But that’s not really what this is about. My thoughts as I revisit Ruins with fresh eyes have less to do with what the reactions to my novella may be than with managing my instinct to pick nits…and just how odd my story now looks.
In pages, Ruins suddenly seems both familiar and very strange. I know I wrote the words, but they’ve taken on new dimension. It’s a little like seeing my kids today and recalling what they were like when they were much younger, and realizing that while I take joy in how they’ve grown, part of me wonders if I’ve shaped them as well as I could have. Intellectually, I know those doubts are natural, and second-guessing my choices at this stage—well, that way lies madness. Still, I wonder.
Then again, maybe that’s the point. It’s not about what I may have done right or wrong in writing The Ruins of Noble Men, but how that experience has affected me. I’m the familiar stranger…standing on the other side the editorial divide with a renewed appreciation for what storytellers go through in trying to spin tales they’re proud to put their names on.
Strange things are afoot. I’ve picked up three clients in three days, and this development comes after a fairly busy January and February. But while it’s tempting to imagine this is the start of a trend, I know better than jump to any hasty conclusions. Still, the continued interest in OE is very gratifying, and I feel pleasantly energized by it.
Yesterday I received my advance copy of the new issue of Star Trek Magazine, #29. As some know, in addition to doing consulting work for authors and book publishers, I also have a regular gig as the magazine’s Contributing Editor. Besides featuring a cool new interview with actor Patrick Stewart by Calum Waddell, this issue includes two good-sized articles by me. The first is “Building the Aventine,” my exclusive interview with CG modeler Mark Rademaker, who designed the newest “hero ship” in the Star Trek book universe. The interview takes readers through the thinking that went into the design, and showcases more than two dozen never-before-seen development images, as well as a new beauty shot of the U.S.S. Aventine, which pulls double duty in this issue as a pull-out poster.
My second article is “Unmasking the Breen,” offering an overview of one of Star Trek‘s most mysterious alien civilizations, as well as their role the Star Trek Online massively multiplayer online roleplaying game and the development work they receive in my buddy David Mack‘s new novel, Star Trek: Typhon Pact—Zero Sum Game. David also previews the Typhon Pact miniseries in this issue, which includes a teaser excerpt from ZSG. (Not coincidentally, ZSG also makes good use of the Aventine.)
In addition, Star Trek Magazine #29 has news, reviews, rare photos, and other cool stuff to feed your inner nerd. Check it out!
A confession: I never thought I was wired for freelancing. I’ve spent too many years gainfully employed by one company or another to think I could adjust to the uneven work flow, the irregular income, or the lack of structure that comes with being an independent contractor. And yet, here I am. The most surprising thing for me, though, turned out to be not that I was able to adapt to going freelance, but just how easy the transition was.
Twelve years working for a New York publishing house can pound the crap out of you. I’ve seen it happen in far less time. But the truth is, I really love editing. Always have. Sure, there’s a fair share of frustration that comes with the job, because so much is beyond an editor’s control or ability to influence. I had my days of banging my head against the desk—who hasn’t? But there’s a unique sort of rush I get from brainstorming with a writer, from being one of the first people to read a manuscript, or from suggesting a turn of phrase or twist in a story that an author knows will make a positive difference.
Making a difference is, to me, what being an editor is all about. It’s the drive to want to continue collaborating with writers and helping to fuel their creative fire that led me to doing the very thing I thought I couldn’t do: re-imagine myself professionally.
It’s been an interesting journey so far. But honestly, the decision to follow this path wasn’t entirely my own. I had plenty of help: authors and former co-workers who have encouraged me; friends and family who have supported me; and a wife and children who every day make me feel as if I’m capable of anything.
All things considered, that’s actually a pretty cool place from which to begin.
Now let’s get to work.