As editor in chief of Ring of Fire Press, I’m the one who picks the books we publish. I am also the chief reader. To keep things under control, and not be deluged by over-the-transom submissions, we are nominally closed. If somebody knows me, I’ll look at their book, or the book of a person they recommend.

But, because of the legacy of Jim Baen’s Universe and The Grantville Gazette, I still am on the lookout for good new writers. This means I must do more than most editors do.

Sometimes it is simple. I read until I can’t stand it anymore, and then I reject the book. If it is really bad, and I don’t know them well, it’s a form rejection. “Sorry, but your book is not what we are currently looking for.”

Sometimes it just works. I have gotten manuscripts in where I read them, cover to cover, as if I was reading an already published novel. Upcoming and new releases by Marella Sands, Paradise and Promised Land, were like that. I read them, sent contracts, and sent them to the cover artist and the proofreaders. Steve Ruskin’s new sequel to The Newton Cipher, called The Sun King’s Scepter is like that. It will come out in late July.

Others are not so cut and dried. More often, I will read a manuscript and I will see great promise in it, but the book just doesn’t work. Then, I have to figure out why, and then I have the delicate duty to tell the author, “Your baby is ugly.” Sometimes they tell me that they will find another publisher. Most of the time, they tell me they’ll fix it, if only I will tell them how.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes I know right off the bat what needs to be fixed, and I’ll tell the author, and they fix it. David Carrico’s forthcoming 1632 story, The Private Case Files of Archie Guttesfreund was like that. There were two specific things that needed to be fixed, and as soon as David fixed them, the story read beautifully. You’re going to like it a lot.

One of the perks of being the editor is that I get to read the books first. (Evil Grin).