More on the Catholic Geek Library

Response to the Library has been great. I had done a pre-release announcement in three Facebook groups, and had a lot of immediate interest. There were authors who pledged to submit the moment that we went live, and submit they did. I’ve got plenty to go through.

However, in addition to the list I’ve already put up, I’ve gathered a few more questions to answer. I’ll probably update that list with these in the near future, but I didn’t want the updates buried somewhere.


How will the CGL catalog be listed? Will you get a separate website?

We have no plans for a separate website. The Library will be a subset of The Catholic Geeks, and will likely remain so even if we become a massive world-spanning media conglomerate. (Hey, dream big, right?) We’re still the same CG you’ve come to love over the last year (or just discovered . . . hi, new subscribers!). We’re just expanding the means by which we do that same thing.

Currently, the Library occupies one page. That will grow. Eventually, the plan is to have be a single landing page which explains what CGL is and has some recent news on it, such as upcoming books. There will be separate pages for the catalog, which will start out as one but eventually grow as we gain enough books to justify categories and genres. We will also provide author pages.

And yes, we will have a link to every place you can buy a particular book, whether in electronic or dead tree format!


You make a point of how your site authors are all Roman Catholic. Why aren’t you doing the same with book authors?

Because the book authors with CGL don’t control the CG brand; we, the site authors, do that. And we, the site authors, decide who gets in CGL, based on the strength of their product. That’s the hardest part about joining the Library; the monetary fee is really more of a formality.

Think of it another way. All our site authors can post whenever they want; even though I’m the Grand High Muckitymuck (read: I own the brand and pay the bills), I don’t require them to run everything past me. Some of them do, most of them don’t. Each member was picked by me, because I know both their geek cred and Catholic affinity. Meanwhile, the Library authors don’t get to use our brand or logo unless we say so. There is an ideological test for both, but it’s based around the book rather than the author — and face it, that’s what you, the audience, is really interested in anyway.


Are you (Matthew Bowman) the only one going through manuscripts?

Currently, yes. I’ll probably rope others into this down the road, but even then I’m the final arbiter. I actually asked the other site authors about this, in one of our meetings in the Super-Secret Catholic Geek Clubhouse. I was asking for opinions on what the minimum number of us to agree on Library membership should be. The answer I got back was that they were fine as long as I was the guy in charge.

So, for now, I’m reading everything. Later, I’ll probably get one or two of the other site authors to read stuff and give me written recommendations, but functionally this is a volunteer position. (Though, remember, we have a Patreon campaign now, and depending on funds I could start paying them in high-quality peanuts in order to take up some slack.)


If you want finished manuscripts, why are you (Matthew Bowman) offering a discount on your personal editing services?

For two reasons. First, it’s possible someone wishes to submit to me with the intent of being accepted by CGL. Since I’m on both ends, the latter’s an easy decision to make before final billing anyway.

Second, once someone is in the Library, there is a high likelihood of them wanting to submit to the catalog again, which means they’ll be looking for editorial services on unfinished manuscripts and may want to keep it in the family.

It’s not a way for me to get rich, nor is it required to use me. That’s just a service I’ll offer, and since it amounts to at least a hundred dollars off editing, it’s not going to be made up by the CGL title fee. However, while I get so many editorial requests through Novel Ninja that I can afford to pick and choose, I have an easier time editing if I enjoy the book in the first place. And if I don’t enjoy the books I’m picking for the brand I own, how good is that brand in the first place?


Will you get more artists/editors? Can I apply/recommend someone?

Yep, we want to get a whole list of both editors and cover artists/graphic designers to help you out. We’ll try to negotiate as much of a discount with them as we can, but we may list some without a discount just because we like their stuff.

And yes, you can apply for consideration! But please, don’t recommend someone else. Tell that editor or artist to contact us directly.


So when you mean everyone has to go through that submission process, do you really mean everyone?

Yes.

This came up twice, so I’m adding this in. I do mean you have to provide every bit of that information, for every single title, every single time, even if you’re my wife. (And I don’t even have a wife, so don’t bother asking her.) Even a CG site author has to go through this. If I publish something under this label (which is going to happen), I still have to do it myself. Which means that, for the sake of propriety, I’m going to have at least two of the other site authors read and approve everything I do. This brand may be legally mine, but I’m not going to rubber-stamp my own stuff. That’s actually the whole reason why I try not to talk about it being mine in the first place.

The submission process tells me a lot. I’ve used the pitch and summary parts for years over at Novel Ninja. I do find that people have some trouble with those, but I can tell how well an author understands story structure, pacing, and prioritizing by how they construct a summary with only 400 words. It saves a lot of time.

But there’s also another important element. An author who doesn’t want to stick to the submission guidelines is a person who doesn’t like playing with others. For both editing and an author co-op, this is vitally important. In a co-op, the authors help each other out. They give advice, cross-promote, and generally work together. There’s no sure-fire way to test strangers for that ahead of time, but submission guidelines come very close. This is why publishers use them. (And I was talking about this with a publisher friend of mine last night, and she was nodding and agreeing rather enthusiastically even before I finished the sentence.) The acquisitions editor can tell, at a glance, if an author has bothered to read the guidelines. If not, then we know we would have a hard time working with you. I started my career as an acquisitions editor and know the benefits of this first-hand.

So yes, follow the submission guidelines. Do not ask for special treatment. If you claim the right to be an exception, I won’t bother reading what you did send me. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best way I can be certain how well you’ll work with the other authors once you’re in the club.


The CGL catalog is supposed to be updated quarterly, but you said you’d announce things sooner. What if an author already has a book published?

The exact time a title is added to CGL is going to be worked out between us and the author. If the book has not yet been published, we ask the author to hold off until that quarter. However, because we’re not a publisher, the author is free to publish at any time. What we have control of is the logo, and we can hold it for that quarter. We may make exceptions for that, but it’ll be on a case-by-case basis.

If an author has not published and is willing to hold until the quarterly launch period, then we can coordinate marketing, possibly use ads (though these are less and less effective as more people use ad blockers), get reviews on blogs, and so on. The more buzz about a book that can happen before its launch, the better that launch will be. So in this case, the book might not be published, but we’d be announcing that it’s coming up at least a month in advance, possibly more.

If the book has been published, either because the book was already out there or because the author just didn’t want to wait, we may give permission for the logo and to be used before that quarterly update. However, because we want to have that quarterly cycle, we’ll be doing blog updates and posting the news on the Library main page, but we’ll only be updating the actual catalog only in January, April, July, and October.


Why didn’t you wait until January, then? That way you start off with the calendar year.

For the same reason the blog didn’t get held off until the start of the year; I didn’t feel like waiting!

But there is a practical reason, besides messing with my OCD friends. (No, really, I have two such friends.) The first quarter is going to be seen as a test bed for the whole project. The audience wants to see what we have to offer. Authors want to see what things are like before hitching their wagon to this particular venture. I’ve had a lot of submissions, possibly more than I can handle in this quarter alone, and I suspect that will continue as we move through the year. Whatever we lead with in October will be used to judge what comes for the next several quarters.

And while it might seem like bravado right now, we’ve got some good stuff lining up for consideration, including a strong first novel from one of our own site authors. This quarter is going to be a strong start.


That’s it for now. If you want to ask more questions, feel free to comment below or email us. We’re looking forward to our first quarterly update!

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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