Nobody is the secret master of all publishing.

I’ve heard three different stories lately of people peripherally attached to science fiction publishing setting themselves up as sort of the mayors of tiny fiefdoms, telling the people around them that they and they alone control the innocent’s path to publication and glory. It makes me angry, because the people who do this are invariably abusers.

They claim that certain people (them) can smooth or block your path to publication simply by being who they are. That you can get yourself blacklisted simply by offending a single person (them), and that will be the end of your shot at publication.

It’s just not so. It is possible to be so difficult to work with, or so personally problematic, that no-one will touch your work no matter how good it is, because it’s not worth the trauma to the staff that will have to work with you.

This cutoff point will vary based on how much of a jerk you are, and how many books you sell. If you don’t sell very many books, you can’t be too much of a jerk.

(Some people who sell a fuckload of books are very nice, which makes them prized by publishing companies.)

But there are abusers and scam artists out there who will tell you that the only way to publish is “because they introduced you to the right person” or “because I put in a word for you.” “Take my class! Only $200 dollars and I will teach you everything you need to know to be a successful author!” “Join my Discord, we have all the secrets of publishing here!”

They convince you that you have to do their bidding, or you will be cut off from the world of publishing forever. That only they can introduce you to the right people. That if you ever offend them, you will be cut off forever, and probably punished.

They are lying.

This is not how publishing works.

How (traditional) publishing works:

You do your research, finish your project, and submit that story/novel/query in the appropriate format to the person you are trying to impress.

Eventually, you get either a rejection or an acceptance or a rewite request. (Or an offer of representation, in the case of an agent.)

While your piece was on submission, you were working on the next piece. You finish that and send it out.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Can friends you make along the way smooth the process? Absolutely: an editor is likely to let their eye linger a little longer on a story by a name they recognize. But they’re still not going to buy it if the story doesn’t work for them.

Solution? Try a different market, and write better.

I can recommend a friend to an agent, but there is no guarantee at all that that agent will offer representation.

Things I cannot do: tell an editor not to publish somebody. Tell an agent not to represent somebody.

They make their own decisions. Don’t be fooled by anybody who tells you that they are in deep with publishing royalty and they can control your fate.

They can’t. They’re just trying to control you.