September 26th, 2006

ozarque figure

Writing science fiction poetry; business note...

Back in early September there was some discussion in this journal about a book of science fiction poems that I was considering putting together, and whether I was willing to write it by posting each of the poems here at LJ for discussion and for critiquing, the way that "Too Human By Half" was done. [The "clarification" post about that book -- with an explanation of my motivations for writing it -- is at ; "Too Human By Half" is at .]

I've made up my mind to do the book, and have given it the working title Novel Poems; it's going pretty well, I think. But I've now had time to realize that even if I'm brave enough to do the writing in Sausage-Making Mode here in this journal I can't do it that way if I want to have any hope of finding a publisher. For strictly business reasons.

A book publisher would let me get away with having posted half a dozen of fifty [tentative final number] of those poems on the Internet, but if I posted all of them here, I'd kill the book's already slim chances of making it into print.

Suppose I were Ursula K. Le Guin -- or any other sf superstar for whom a market is guaranteed, no matter what the book. That would be a different matter. In a case like that, a publisher would be willing to be part of a project where the poems were written publicly and posted here for comments, and would consider that an interesting, maybe even innovative, sort of promotion and marketing for the final product. However, it's not like that, and finding a publisher is going to be difficult enough without my making it harder.

I'm genuinely sorry about this, because I enjoy the group poetry process. I enjoy it so much that I'm sure I'll be doing it again -- just not for any more of the poems that will be going into that book.
ozarque figure

Writing science fiction poetry; business note postscript....

I want to make it very clear that my earlier post wasn't about being afraid that LJers were going to do anything inappropriate with the poems I might post here for group discussion. Absolutely not; it never crossed my mind that anyone would think I was worried about that. If it had crossed my mind I would have made it clear that I wasn't, in the original post.

I'm not at all worried about poems being ripped off or leaked or borrowed or any of the other possibilities, and that isn't why I posted the business note. This has nothing to do with concern about the "safety of my work," and everything to do with a technicality.

Technically -- in the worldview of many publishers (and the worldview of most poetry competition administrators) -- work that has appeared on the Internet in a "public" forum of any kind has already been published, and they're not interested in whatever the electronic equivalent of "reprints" is. That's the only problem.

I apologize for the confusion; it wasn't intentional, and I for sure didn't mean to be insulting.