Writing for properties

ASFWA and I saw Black Library, the imprint that does Warhammer/40K books. Obviously, that’s not too surprising, but I’ve never really considered trying to get published there. The reason is that those two universes are properties.

Writing for properties is different from writing in your own universe. First of all, even if you create a completely original character in that property, the rights to that character do not belong to you. If I get Soul of Humanity published, I can do whatever I want with Corlath or the Ascalon or curians, but if I write a story on the Phoenix Guard, Kintos, Kintos belongs to Black Library and Games-Workshop. That’s not really a deterrent, though. It’s just something to be aware of. Secondly, you have to know, at least in a general sense, what came before, and while I’ve played the game, I haven’t read much of the fiction. Again, this is something that is fairly easily addressed. I also have to consider whether breaking in by writing for a property would risk typecasting me as a writer who writes Warhammer stories. I don’t think that’s a terribly large risk, but it is something to consider. Finally, the main reason I haven’t considered it is because I assumed that, like most properties, you have to be invited to write for them. I learned that this isn’t the case.

Black Library accepts unsolicited submissions from May 31 to July 31. Not only that, but they don’t have to be complete when you submit. They just need a chapter-by-chapter summary, a synopsis, and the first three chapters. I’ve been considering what to do for NaNoWriMo this year, and I’ve always really liked the story behind the Phoenix Guard, warriors who have seen the future and know when they are going to die but who are oath bound never to speak, and I think I could write a good story about them, and have it ready, in one form or another, to submit in time for next year’s submission widow. It’s something that bears thinking on.

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