A Stealth Affirmation at LTUE

Something happened at LTUE this weekend that I wanted to share with y’all. It’s hard to quantify it because–unlike the ethereal fantasy run-in with a Big Cheese Editor-it’s unlikely to lead to a huge publishing deal or anything like that. It might not even lead to name recognition down the road. It doesn’t give me an “in” with a future submission. It was just something affirming, something great for its own sake, and aside from my wife, nobody else saw it happen.
Friday night, I had just set up the signing table (along with maybe thirty other authors) and put my books out, comprising the entire Engines trilogy plus KILL THE BEAST. Before things had really gotten underway, a bearded gentleman who was probably in his fifties came over and started flipping through a copy of REBEL HEART.
He asked what DreadPennies was, I told him it was just the name of my operation. The books were printed by CreateSpace but I did the layouts myself. He said he was impressed by the quality, not just of the materials but of the work–margins, gutters, stuff a publisher would recognize, stuff that a lot of indies get wrong. It makes the finished product look bad when it’s overlooked.
I thanked him and asked him if he had anything at the show, if he was a writer or artist, he said no, he was an editor (and I initially couldn’t hear the name of the publisher.) He’d worked at Tor and Del Rey for long stretches, but had been at his current spot for over a decade.
He left, and I looked up his name tag in the program, because it kind of sounded familiar. Then I found myself dumbstruck; it was Jim Minz, head editor of Baen books, a publisher for with whom I would shed human blood to be published.
(Small amounts, and my own, from like, my nose or something, but still.)
Again, here’s the thing: this happenstance encounter didn’t net me a huge publishing deal, or a get-out-of-slush-hell-free card, or even a recommendation to submit to them later. It didn’t give me a tangible perk of any kind.
It was just extremely affirming to be a low-totem-pole guy with a whopping four books to my name, and receive an approving fist pump from the best of the pros.
I still have to sweat and grind and crank out books. This changes nothing. But it tells me I’m at least doing it right on the “quality” side of things. And that’s huge.
This is not the last time I will present my work to that man. Baen is one of two publishers I want to work with. I hope the next time impresses him even more. We shall see. 
Back to work.

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