As some of you may know, I’m spending the week visiting my father in Massachusetts. One reason for this visit is that I knew it would give me an opportunity to pop down to New York and visit the Tor offices, something which my editor, Moshe, encouraged me to do. I found that opportunity yesterday, and had a wonderful experience.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ll just give some of my impressions of the place. The Tor office is this winding, labyrinthine clutter of bookshelves, nooks, and offices. Moshe himself was in a small room crammed with three other assistant editors—there was barely room to stand, and every corner was stacked with floor to ceiling books. It was kind of dark and dungeon-esque, which I found appropriate. Books, lack of light, and a musty (if crowded) seclusion—what else could an editor want?
As I said, there were plenty of winding corridors, most leading to various sections of the staff. I met artists, editors, publicists, assistants, and designers. It seemed like a very friendly environment. The big man himself, Tom Doherty, has a ‘corner’ office that my agent refers to as ‘the prow.’ The building the Tor offices are in is called the Flatiron Building, and I think it’s built right up against two merging streets, giving it an angled side. Tom’s office was right at the end of this triangular construction, and he had an amazing view of downtown New York.
I spoke for a time with Tom about the prospectus (I’ll post more of it here later). He seemed most intrigued with my MISTBORN concept, which was good, since I’d just delivered a copy of the manuscript to Moshe. Tom strikes me as a quiet man—every time I’ve met him, he’s done more listening than talking. He started off by just having me talk about MISTBORN, then gave some advice. He said that continuing characters were a very big draw for my kind of fantasy, and emphasized empathetic characters over everything else. He also suggested drawing upon ‘what people in our nation find important’ to provide conflict for books. He seemed pretty much behind my doing a MISTBORN trilogy, and essentially gave his approval (pending, I assume, Moshe liking the first book well enough to publish it).
After that, Moshe and I went to some little restaurant he knew for lunch (on Tor). Since neither of us were paying, I got a steak—and it was fantastic.
There was an air of . . . relaxed professionalism about the entire experience. As I’ve said, I believe that this is a field populated with people who are really fans of the genre, and this visit only improved my commitment to that belief. If you are getting into writing, I encourage you to avoid thinking of editors as a bunch of curmudgeonly businessmen who know nothing about ‘good’ writing. (Believe it or not, I’ve heard them described that way.) Editors aren’t your enemies—they’re people dedicated to the genre who really want to publish the best books that they can.
EUOL, aka Brandon Sanderson, writes epic fantasies for Tor Books. Find his column on TWG on Fridays, where he will discuss whatever random topic pops into his head—including, but not limited to, reviews, articles about writing, and con reports.