She’s Looking for Something Special

So she walks into my store, kinda timid like, but pokes her way up to the counter.

Can I help you, miss?” I ask, tapping my ash into the shattered husk of one of my wares.

I’m looking for a few worlds I can connect together. I’m hoping to publish a collection of stories about killer plants.” She smiles. Now that she’s talking, she’s picked up some confidence.

Ah. You’re an editor,” I answer. “Well, we got all types of worlds here. How many you looking for?”

She considers. “I’m thinking ten to twenty, depending how big they are.”

Right. Well, let’s see what we got here.” And I turn to gaze on the shelves behind me. See, lots of people string together words and create worlds. Not every world is great, but many are by the time they get to me. The problem isn’t the words or the creators. The problem is connecting the world with an editor just right. They’re usually looking for something specific, even though they don’t always know what they’re looking for.

I grab a world called Little Shop of Terrors. Derivative, but who knows? This editor might like that. The Plant that Ate Manhattan could be promising. Green Death and Roots of Darkness and Six-fingered Joe – There’s always some wiseguy that tries to send something that doesn’t fit at all. A few more.

She asked for ten to twenty. She’s going to get over a hundred. Because that’s how it works. An editor wants a world, and there’s always more creators willing to give than there are spots.

And this is what the creators forget so often. Maybe the labored over their worlds. I hope so. They shined them up so pretty. But how many worlds does an editor look at? Your world doesn’t just have to shine brighter. It has to fit what the editor is looking for.

Oh, a hundred won’t do. I heard of an editor looking for six spots, and he got over a thousand. What kind of worldshop would I be if I gave the minimum? Why not go for a 12×12 container of worlds? Maybe that’ll still be handle-able. I rack them up. “Any of these to your liking, miss?”

She eyes them warily. “What if I don’t like them?”

Well, form letters are all the rage. You want to be nice, send a personal note. Something that encourages.” I shrug. “Look, if they’re going to try and sell a world, they’re going to need thick skin. They’ll get rejected more often than not. Unless they get a name for themselves, but then you’ll have to pay more for them.”

She nods. “Well. I best get started. When do you need these back by?”

I shrug again. It’s sort of my native language. “You figure that one out, sweetheart.”

She glares this time.

All right, so I let slip one of them naughty words. But like I said: You need to grow a thick hide to get through this world-selling-and-buying business. I add, “Look, you tell them, and the good ones will wait until after the time you’ve said you need. And if someone needles you? You can always toss their world. It’s their fault, then.”

She nods. “OK. So let’s say two months. I should be able to figure things out by then.”

Whatever you say. Hope they work out. If not, let me know. I’m sure I can find more.” I pick up my cigarette again.

Would they be better than these?”

Hard to say, miss. Hard to say. But start with those. And then… we’ll see.”

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