This week on the show we have Tim Powers, Philip K. Dick award-winning science fiction and fantasy author of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace and On Stranger Tides. I met Tim at Loscon and he made an offhand comment about how nobody should ever self-publish their book. I asked him to come on the show and make his case, and he agreed! This is his bio, straight from Wikipedia:
Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers (born February 29, 1952) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides served as inspiration for the Monkey Island franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbeanfilm.
Most of Powers' novels are "secret histories". He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.
Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2000 novel Declare, he stated,
"I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all."
Tim has been a published writer for a long time, and I really enjoyed his perspective on writing. Even though I don’t agree that there is never a reason to self-publish. He laid out his case very well for why somebody should look for a publisher, and even how to do it. I really enjoyed toward the end of the interview when he went through the step by step process for how to get a book published. It was a brilliant strategy, and even though he’s not a marketing person he clearly has some marketing in him because it’s genius in its simplicity.
I also really liked what he said about how to find an agent. Yes, he went through the exact process you should use to find an agent toward the end of the interview and it was great. There is a secret piece of the puzzle you need before getting an agent interested, and the way he talks about it is just fantastic.
The four publishers he talked about in this interview that accept unsolicited manuscripts are Tor, Daw, Baen, and Ace. I know I’m going to look into them and if you have a qualifying book then you should too.
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