Bewildering Stories

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An Inside Look at Silver Lake Publishing:
Interview with Stephanie D. Weidner

by Eric S. Brown

Stephanie Weidner, age 27, will have owned and operated Silver Lake Publishing for two years in May 2004. SLP itself is five years old. Under previous ownership, SLP published eleven books. As of this interview, Stephanie Weidner has published 19 new titles and four second editions of the previous 11.

What got you into publishing?

Before I started publishing, I was an author. In late 2001, SLP picked up my two sci-fi books, Auch das Schöne and Amazing Grace. I waited for 14 months to see any results, and, had I not had a new baby taking up my whole life, I might have thought about going elsewhere. Then, a few weeks after the first of my books became available for sale, the owner informed me she was closing down the company. Tired of the constant delays and setbacks, I offered to take it from her instead.

Initially, it was pure selfishness that motivated me, but I soon discovered that the other titles that SLP had published were of excellent quality and deserved to live on as well as mine. I also discovered that SLP had accepted seven other titles whose authors had been waiting almost as long as I had. As I worked through them, trying to give the authors the attention and speed that I had wanted and that we all deserve, I realized that I truly enjoyed the editing and publishing process. When I reopened submissions, I knew I had accidentally found a job I loved. My only real regret about the whole thing is that I have not written a word of my own in over a year.

How would you describe the kind of books your company offers and what genres do you publish?

I publish novels, novellas, collections, and the occasional anthology. Most of my books are in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, or Horror genres (or cross/sub genres), but I accept submissions of any genre. If a book is really good, I’ll publish it regardless of its subject. That is why I have one historical, one straight young adult, and one romance in the catalog.

SLP books have to have a good story with strong, realistic characters, presented in a well-written, engaging way. In other words, they are fun and interesting to read.

Have any books you published been recommended for awards, etc.?

Only a few because I have concentrated more on the books themselves than on creating good buzz for them. That is an area I plan to work on in the future. The award winners are:

Puzzles of Flesh by Jason Brannon should have been a Top 10 finalist for P&E 2002, but it was listed twice with two different capitalizations and therefore two different scores. I have also entered The Shivered Sky by Matt Dinniman into the 2003 IPPYs which will be announced in May.

What are your new best-selling titles of last year?

The Shivered Sky has exploded on the online sites like The reviews have all been positive, and I have great hopes for it at the IPPYs. The story is a dark fantasy revolving around a war in Heaven between the angels and the demons and around the five dead humans who arrive in the middle of it all. It was written, researched, and organized extremely well, and it presents everything in shades of gray rather than a traditional good-vs-evil setting.

Leaving Winter by Kathleen Quinn is selling very well overseas, especially for such a recent release (December 1, 2003). I first read this charming little romance literally in one sitting. I generally don’t like straight romances, but this one was so gentle and so focused on love and its healing powers rather than on sex that I jumped at the chance to publish it.

Also, Fantasy Readers Wanted — Apply Within has generated a lot of excitement, both from the authors attached to it and from the contest that the Fantasy Writers Wanted group is running. The anthology is centered on a quest theme and has stories from Rebecca Bradley, Matthew Hughes, and Bruce Holland Rogers, among others, and a poetry reprint from Neil Gaiman.

What can your company offer a writer looking to get a book published that would make them want to submit to you rather than somewhere else?

Quality in all aspects of the production.

Personally, I have an ideal blend of author, editor, and fan. I normally would not give myself such praise, but I have heard it enough from other people that I feel okay saying it now. As an author, I understand the concepts of character development, mood and tone, storyline progression, and other literary elements. For example, at one point in The Shivered Sky, Matt has about eight different storylines going all at once. I helped him reorganize it so that the entirety flowed together well without allowing the reader to forget or wonder about any of the main characters for too long. He also had one character who the reader should forget about, but he brought him back in too soon initially. I had him move that scene back to increase the impact of the character’s return.

As an editor, I am a perfectionist with a scarily-good short term memory (and a pretty good long-term memory as well.) In From the Hands of Hostile Gods by Darren Hawkins, which was released just after Christmas 2003, the head doctor’s first name appeared the first time he was introduced, and then again about 200 pages later. Darren had written two different names for this doctor, an error which I caught. I have also been known to ask how a soldier holding a sword and a shield could open a door without shifting his equipment, to keep a running tally of how much money a girl has in her pocket as she makes purchases, and to track down every questionable word in a manuscript and ask the author if he meant to write it in that way. In other words, I’m insane.

I’m also a fan of every book I publish because I only publish the books I like.

This means I want the book to succeed just as much as the author does. I also sometimes request more information that a fan would want. In Infinite Keep, the second of a five-part young adult fantasy series by Steven Climer, he had mentioned an insult match between the main character’s best friend and her younger brother. As I fan, I really wanted to hear that match and made him write it.

Apart from the editing, I try to make sure SLP has quality service in every other aspect as well. I hire good artists and make sure they understand the author’s vision. My printer, Lightning Source, makes solid trade paperbacks that survive the ravages of multiple readings, car trips, and children (all tested personally). I devoutly believe in the importance of both customer and client service and try to be as helpful and as accomodating as possible. I’m also just plain nice which tends to rub off on others.

Do you work closely with your authors?

Very much so. My goal is to produce a book that the author will be proud of. I consult the author on just about everything, from edits to cover art to publicity. My greatest fear is to have an author say he doesn’t like something about his book. My greatest reward is hearing an author say it turned out better than he ever dreamed. That always makes my day.

And finally, how would one go about finding Silver Lake books to order them?

The best and most obvious place is the SLP website, Some SLP titles are at Shocklines and Clarkesworld Books, and almost all of SLP’s books are at Project Pulp,, and B& The exception to this is the wonderful Chronicles of the Last Elder Lord series by Merilyn George. She and artist Roger Lee elected not to do widespread distribution, so these four fantasy titles are at the SLP site only.

Copyright © 2004 by Eric S. Brown

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