Eleanor Arnason on the State of Science Fiction Publishing

At Strange Horizons, author Eleanor Arnason writes about women authors and science fiction publishing. “I’m not an expert on the current state of SF publishing. Twenty-plus years ago, a distinguished New York editor told me, “Given the current state for publishing, Eleanor, your career as a novelist is dead.”

I think now I shouldn’t have listened to him. But my experiences with the New York houses had not been good. My book covers ranged from mediocre to ghastly. There were problems with editing, especially copy editing and especially the copy editor who had a nervous breakdown while working on one of my books. He was apparently picked up by the cops, wandering through the streets of New York, either naked or with a gun. (I no longer remember which.) The publishing house realized the only copy of the manuscript was in the guy’s apartment, and they couldn’t get to it. Rather than contacting me for another copy, they hunted around the office and found an earlier version of the novel and typeset that. When I got the proofs to go over, I found serious problems, which had to be solved by me reading changes over the phone to an editor in New York with a pen. Of course mistakes were made and appeared in the published version.”

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