Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Second Thing To Do After You Make Your First Sale


This post is addressed at as-yet-unpublished writers.

Sometime in your future your first professional sale is going to appear in print. The absolute first thing you're going to do is whoop loudly, jump up and down, fling things about, grab the nearest person of appropriate gender and attractiveness and plant a big kiss on his or her lips, brag to all your friends, call your mother, explain to her why it's a big deal, accept her congratulations, get drunk (unless you're a teetotaler, in which case you'll go wild by pouring yourself an extra cup of Lhasa Apso), dance, sing, make a nuisance of yourself, and roll into bed either alone or not depending entirely on personal preferences.


Yes, the whole sticky mess of reaction may be considered one thing because, let's be honest, it's all of a piece.

The second thing you should do is to start a bibliography.

I know this sounds silly, but trust me. Look up the formatting, write your name at the top of a blank sheet of paper, and below it type the information. As for example:

“The Last Smurf”, Lazarus Long, ed.,  Dangerous Smurfs, NY: Tor, 2016.

Only not in italics, of course.

For a terrible bleak instant, your first publication is going to look pretty pathetic. One bare line on a vast expanse of white. Suppress that feeling. Print out a copy, file it where you can find it, and save the electronic file.  Not long after (because you are a particularly fine writer), the story is picked up for a resale anthology.  Now your entry looks like this:

“The Last Smurf”, Lazarus Long, ed.,  Dangerous Smurfs, NY: Tor, 2016.
        Reprinted in: Ender Wiggins, ed., Smurfs of Wonder
        San Francisco: Toad Press, 2017.

A year passes, during which you've sold another story, and your maiden effort has been reprinted in a best of the year anthology and translated into Elbonian.  Meanwhile you've sold another two stories. Now your bibliography looks like this:

“The Animus of Inwit”, Bisson's Science Fiction, Vol. 25: Nos. 10 & 11, 
         October/November, 2017.

“The Last Smurf”, Lazarus Long, ed.,  Dangerous Smurfs, NY: Tor, 2016.
        Reprinted in: Ender Wiggins, ed., Smurfs of Wonder
        San Francisco: Toad Press, 2017.
        Genly Ai and Hari Seldon, eds., Year's Best Smurfs, NY: 
        Albuterol, 2017.
       Translated as: "Zygnadj Szmrf", Wznstn Szmth. ed., Smrgf 
       Oof, Gyznyd, Elbonia: Yngvy Press, 2018

"Son of the Last Smurf", Susan Calvin, ed.,  Again Dangerous
        Smurfs, NY: Tor, 2016.

Now you're getting somewhere!  More importantly, since you've only got one entry to make at a time, the task of assembling a comprehensive and reliable bibliography is an snap.

Provided only that you made it the second thing you did after after receiving your first publication in the mail.

Above: A flower. For you. In honor of your first professional sale.


Eileen Gunn said...

Michael, the dumbfounding speed of my story production leaves me no time to collect and organize a bibliography. Fortunately, the excellent folks at the Internet Science-Fiction Database have stayed on top of my prodigious output. I recommend their work to your readers:

Michael Swanwick said...

I just checked my own listing and it omits a lot of publications -- including my last two novels. Following a link, I find that they have Marianne's Dragonstairs Press as having published only three chapbooks, when she's created more than a dozen.

So I wouldn't recommend the Internet Science-Fiction Database as a reliable alternative to maintaining one's own bibliograpy. But I'm glad they got your oeuvre right.

Eileen Gunn said...

Well, they may find listing all your work a challenge, Michael. The site includes a lot of my own reprints and non-fiction that I've forgotten about.

It's a volunteer-maintained site that covers thousands of writers and hundreds and hundreds of publications. I think they do an incredible job, and I frequently use it as a resource.

NB: Unlike Wikipedia, ISFDB encourages writers to update their entries, and is also willing to add or correct things if a writer finds it difficult to use the login.

Michael Swanwick said...

Whoops. They did have my last two novels. Just oddly placed.

I won't be trying to whip their bibliography into shape, though. Too much work. It's easier just to use my own bibliography. It never needs more than one item updated at a time.