Writing Excuses 8.40: Publishing with Bill Schafer

Bill Schafer, co-publisher at Subterranean Press joins us for a discussion of publishing. He talks to us about how this small press fits into the overall market, and why they’re thriving in spite of the current market disruptions.

Bill explains to us what the publisher’s role is. We’ve spoken with plenty of agents and editors, but Bill’s our first publisher, and the distinction is an important one. We also talk about why it’s important for you, as a writer, to understand this. He also weighs in on the future of publishing, and puts a couple of stakes in the ground.

Steelheart Tweeting Thingy: Per the episode intro from Howard, we’re giving away three more Steelheart audiobooks, courtesy of our sponsor Audible.com. Tweet us your epic power, and how it will enable you to win this contest! Here’s the format:

“{MY EPIC POWER, AND HOW IT WILL HELP ME CLAIM} the STEELHEART audiobook from @WritingExcuses.”

Obviously you’ll want to replace the stuff between the {braces} with something clever. You have ninety-four characters with which to hone your message. Also, you should follow @WritingExcuses on Twitter so we can Direct Message you if you happen to be one of our three lucky winners.

Start tweeting now. We’ll cut things off Wednesday morning (our time – Mountain) and then we’ll announce the winners by the end of the day Thursday.


Your main character is a small-press publisher, and his storeroom has been flooded.

Legion, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Oliver Wyman

6 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 8.40: Publishing with Bill Schafer”

  1. Ink lapped at Bill’s ankles. He slipped and splashed over to the press. “Dan! What’s happening?”
    Dan climbed higher on the press. “Ask him.” He pointed.
    Brandon stood near the exit. Vibrant ink in spurted from his fingers in an unending stream. “I can’t stop writing!” he yelled.
    Bill pushed through the rising muck. He struggled to keep his footing and closed in on Brandon. “We’ve got to cut your hands off.” He dipped his hands beneath the slime and pulled a box cutter from his pocket.
    Brandon’s eyes turned the color of toner. “Never!” he shrieked.
    Bill dove, blade extended.
    Brandon’s fingers twitched, writing two words that hovered in the air before Bill’s face: The End.

  2. Do you have any advice on how to put together a marketing plan to go along with a query submission? I noticed that the majority of presses that are open to submissions from new writers expect that. I have done some research, but I’m in that awkward place where I’m too much of a newbie in the industry to feel able to sort the good advice from the bad.

    In fact, if you happen to do a marketing episode sometime in the future, I will probably dance like a hamster in a Kia commercial.

  3. 17:09 — Yes, that publishing plan might work if writers have a fan base backing them up, but also ONLY IN the book being published is equal in type and QUALITY to the books the publisher has a reputation for producing. For me, and I suspect for many readers, publishers now serve as matchmakers, as consultants, linking us with books we might like to read and assuring us that those books are literate, reasonably well-written and worth our time. I NEVER read self-published fiction (from unknowns, anyway — I might consider something from a hybrid writer some day) specifically because I refuse to wade through slush, and because I don’t believe the lowest common denominator of the internet is a good place to go to for advice on anything, even without the liars and sock puppets. I have stashed in my eReader a list of approved publishers for MWA and ITW not only because I’m a writer in those genres, but especially because I’m a reader in those genres. I look to publishers to do the dirty job of keeping the slush out of my way — and I’m willing to pay them for providing that service.

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