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Being Published

Since it got out at my day job that I am being legitimately published, I am occasionally waylaid by questions, which I will address here.

How much did you pay to be published?
Nothing. The point of being published was that a company would pay me for my creative efforts. While it is true I allowed some of my work to be published without recompense beyond free copies or to help out friends so I could get my name out, I would not pay to have my work in print. Anyone who tries to charge you to be in print is scamming you. This goes triply for "contests", where you submit your work with a generous fee in hopes of winning a nominal prize if your story is printed, especially given that publishers will then make additional money off what you have written when they sell it. (But hey, feel free to tell me in the comments how your contest isn't ripping off impoverished writers.) Real publications pay you and, as per Yog's Law, money flows to the author, not away.

So, are you self-published?
No. While I am a proponent of legitimate print on-demand houses (,, these were not for me. I won't tell someone I do not consider them published because they went this route and am certain there is much good that was overlooked by traditional publishing houses (my first novel was rejected dozens of times before being accepted by Double Dragon Publishing), I did not feel that I could undercut my novel by allowing it to be printed in this way, having to deal with the nose crinkles and patronizing nods people give when told one self-published, knowing that distribution and advertising was solely in my court. I spent seven years perfecting this first novel, it deserves to be seen.

How much do you make?
8% of print, 30% of ebook. I am given to understand that this is a fairly standard deal.

Do you have an agent?
No. I applied to several, I got rejected time and again. They did not want to make money off of me. Given that one would simply have needed accepted me and applied to my current publishing house on my behalf, I would have to think it is their loss.

Do you have an editor? If so, what is he paid?
I was assigned to an editor by my publisher. I have no idea what he is paid, but I can say that it probably isn't enough.

Can I draw your book cover/read for your audiobook?
These decisions are well outside of my hands. Please feel free to offer your services to my publisher. They will ignore you, but you are free to do whatever you like.

Where can I buy your book, We Shadows?
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my publisher's website so far. However, it is not in print quite yet, so don't bother looking it up. Trust me, I'll let you know starting in April 2011. I will not stop letting you know until you ask me to autograph your copy.

Wait, so you aren't really published yet?
That is a semantics issue. You cannot yet possess my book in physical form, but I have a signed contract. Do you feel the need to point out that a pregnant woman does not have children yet? The situations are not different. I am gravid with publication.

Wow, I never thought you would make it!
While not a question, allow me to address this here: shut up. You never thought I would make it? One, I am not being published by Harper-Collins or Penguin with a generous advance. Your definition of "making it" may not match mine. I've gotten my foot in the door in a sizable way. Two, while my publication may have seemed impossible to you, it was always inevitable to me. Your retroactive lack of faith in me and my work doesn't fill me with joy and light.

Can you help me get published?
I can point you toward my publisher's site, but my advice isn't going to be much better than that. I have no special knowledge here. As I said, I was rejected dozens of times before I heard anything encouraging. Most things sent to the slush pile won't even be looked at, I can guarantee. I submitted to publishers who were looking for curiously the exact book I had written and was rejected with a vague "We don't see how this applies to us." I will suggest you actually heed the formatting requirements of the publisher. Give them no excuse to reject you, because people are lazy and eager to get their work done. If that can be accomplished by ignoring you because you use smart quotes, they will absolutely do that.

What are you going to do now?
I finished the sequel Danse Macabre and sent it off to my beta readers, who have been curiously silent. I am working on the third book of the series Artificial Gods. Double Dragon stated that they will continue to publish books in my series as long as the quality doesn't markedly decrease. I am not the type to rest on my laurels, nor do I feel the need to magnify my accomplishments. Outside of my series (and the label "contemporary fantasy"), I have several books in the works, though not as actively as Artificial Gods.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.

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