Trucker Puppy Goes To The Encyclopedia Depot

So by now we’ve already all read about the Undead Press debacle ad nauseum. I just wanted to throw a few of my own thoughts on this thing out there, because fuck knows the Internet needs one more opinion and the world was waiting for my royal decree.

Starting out is rough. You always stand the risk of being schnookered, there are unscrupulous people who want to schnooker you because of that inexperience, and you’re so desperate for validation, like a puppy trying to drive a big rig, that you’ll sell to pretty much anybody if it means your story is somewhere vaguely resembling the public eye. The problem with that, as with the aforementioned trucker puppy, is that it could all end in tears. Did that puppy get its CDL before it started? Did it do its research? No? Well, that dramatically ups the odds that Trucker Puppy is going to drive full-tilt into a knife factory, keep going, and plow through a home for tender-skinned hemophiliac children before plunging off a cliff.

We live in the Age of the All-Seeing Eye Of the Internet. It is easier to educate yourself about anything and everybody, from candiru to Camus, than it has ever been before. I am, in fact, talking to you across a great wide gulf of Pure Fucking Information. Small presses are numerous and many of them are absolutely goddamned fantastic, but for every Small Beer there are a handful like Undead Press just salivating at the chance to screw you. But! You have secret teeth, my darlings! Come close, so that I may plant my tender knowledge seeds in your fecund mind-dirt.

- Do your fucking research.
- Are you getting paid even a token amount? Can the editor spell their own name correctly? What kind of press have they gotten? Have you read anything they’ve published? Do you know other people who have worked with them? Can you find other people who have worked with them? Remember: Internet.
- Do your fucking research.
- Do your fucking research.
- Do not bend over just because you are The Tiny Fish or whatever the fuck. That’s your fucking name on the story; treat it like thunder crashes and demons make out every time someone utters the goddamned thing. Don’t be a dick. Be respectful. Do ask questions if you’ve got ‘em, though, and if the editor ignores you, belittles you, or otherwise treats you like shit, run like hell. Token payments, whether contributor copies or a bright copper penny, generally go a long way towards showing respect. They are there for a reason (unless we’re taking lit ‘zines; see below).
- Research your do.

Not too long ago, I got solicited by a lit ‘zine I had never heard of to do a story for no pay whatsoever. Now, immediately my bullshit meter started going off, as well it should have. In the SF/F world, at least, this is generally not how the game is played. So I whipped out GoogleTwit, asked around, and hey presto, they were legit. It took me all of an afternoon to dig up that info, simply because lit ‘zines are run differently and I don’t know a lot of people in those communities (if it had been a specfic market I’m sure it would have taken an hour, tops). But I had to do the research first, and until I did the research I didn’t agree to shit. I don’t know a fraction of everything about this business nor do I claim to; I’m just beginning my long journey upstream. What I do know about is staying suspicious when you’re small and the world is full of things that want to eat you. Christ, didn’t anyone else read Watership Down?

Give your Trucker Puppy CDL lessons, a map, and opposable thumbs before setting her off on the motorway. Puh-lease Do Your Fucking Research. Take a deep breath before you agree to anything and ask yourself if it smells right, even if the aroma of OMG! STORY! IN PRINT! is almost overpowering the fine bouquet of BS. You will be happier in the long run, this I promise you.

2 thoughts on “Trucker Puppy Goes To The Encyclopedia Depot

  1. “Did that puppy get its CDL before it started? Did it do its research? No? Well, that dramatically ups the odds that Trucker Puppy is going to drive full-tilt into a knife factory, keep going, and plow through a home for tender-skinned hemophiliac children before plunging off a cliff.”

    Are you a poet, because this is some tragic beauty in that image, I tell you what.

    Also, yeah, making sure a thing is legit is important, and for others browsing this page, is usually pretty reliable in telling you what kind of market you’re getting yourself into, whether or not it pays, why you should submit to it if it doesn’t pay (erm, if you’re into that), and the site’s home page so you can browse their past publications.

  2. Truth be told, I used to go further than that: if the venue isn’t paying, I want to hear WHY it’s not paying at least a token amount. If the proceeds are going to charity, fine. If this is a rather unorthodox collection with a real risk of imploding, not a problem. The old “Well, we’ll start paying when the press becomes profitable” line, though, is beyond unacceptable, because that just encourages the people running it never to become profitable. And why should they when people will give them submissions for free?

    Along that line, I finally quit genre writing a decade ago last month, with three very regrettable relapses, because of that. I had someone contact me out of the blue who asked if I could contribute to her magazine, and I thought through my response. At the time, I was desperately underemployed, where I could pay rent or the car payment but not both, so my mistake was asking “What is the pay rate?” I promptly received a snotty and arrogant response along the lines of “Since I’m not a well-heeled trust fund baby, we’ll pay when the magazine makes a profit. You need to pay your dues in this business.” Considering that I’d been writing on a professional level for 13 years, I thought about that, realized that the genre market was only going to get worse, and decided that it made more sense to quit than continue to put up with vermin like this. This works very well at keeping me away from another relapse, too, as repeated requests to submit articles because “your stuff is IMPORTANT” amazingly stop the moment I ask about payment.

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