Dear Jim,

Publishers WeeklyWhen I wrote to you the other day by email with a brief note asking if Publishers Weekly might want to link to the recent news on NPR and at the Christian Science Monitor in the U.S., and in The Guardian and the Financial Times in London, about a new literary genre called “cli-fi”, you replied with a terse note sent from your iPhone that read: “not interested.”

Jim, you seem like a very likable fellow. You’re editorial director of PW, the most prestigious print magazine in the book trade industry. I’ve been a PW reader since I was in college. I still read it online from my office in Taiwan. So I suppose I expected a more positive response from PW than “not interested.”

The book indsutry websites in London ran the cli-fi links, and those heads-up led to both The Guardian and Financial Times doing stories on the emerging new genre. Yet PW says, “not interested.”

Not interested, Jim, in the future of the planet? Not interested in the future of literature? Not interested in the future of the book industry?

Jim, as editorial director of PW, you are one of the major “gatekeepers” of the book industry worldwide, not just America. And yet, when a reader tells you about a major new meme in literary circles that’s also been reported in major news outlets in both the U.S. and the UK, you say you’re “not interested.” There seems to be a disconnect here, Jim.

The same week you said you were “not interested” in the cli-fi news items, you did run a short item about another Guardian news piece about God and science fiction. So you’re not adverse to running things from The Guardian, and you have no beef with sci-fi. That’s good to know.

Jim, I hope your “not interested” is not an indication of the feelings of the rest of your colleagues and reporters at PW, not to mention your readership of editors, publishers, agents, writers and book readers. I can only assume that your “not interested” was an initial reaction on an off day, and that in a later second opinion you will be more open-minded and welcoming.

Jim, we’re talking literature. And movies are made from literature. And your two-word response is “not interested”? As the publishing world moves more and more to e-books and digital publications, is PW just a dinosaur sitting on the future corpses of paper books? Is that what provoked your “not interested”?

Sir, what planet are you living on? Second opinion, please.

Or is there another doctor in the house?


Dan Bloom

Dan Bloom is a freelance writer in Taiwan


  1. What an idiot! He writes a long missive about the importance of “clifi” and never bothers explaining what it is. Evidently he never learned the concept of writing for the readers’ benefit, rather than self-indulgent blather.

  2. Not too impressed myself. Comes off more than a little petulant, to my read. And if I were going to complain to professional papers and journals about not covering the things I thought were important, I’d be writing letters all day. (Many of them about how they fawn over Amazon for the revolutionary idea of giving e-books away when Baen was doing it ten years before Amazon began.)

  3. Dan, I understand your frustration regarding your inquiry but I’ve known Jim Milliot for quite a few years and I have to say you’re painting an extremely unfair picture of him and his PW colleagues. Jim is a very open-minded guy and I’ve always found him to be extremely interested in the future of publishing. I shudder to think how many times I turned down a request like yours but I’m glad none of those people turned it into a public flogging like this. Feel free to ridicule me for posting this comment but I don’t think your response here to Jim’s reply was appropriate.

  4. Joe Wikert, above. Thanks for your note and please understand that it was not my intention to do a “public flogging” of Jim in my open letter. If you read what i wrote again, slowly, not on a screen, but on a paper printout where the mind reads more slowly and patiently, you will see that my letter was full of humor and good humor and i even wrote “Jim, you seem like a very likable fellow.” I know he is a good man and that is why I decided to write to him this way. Want to know why, Joe. Jim told me after my first email to him that he would NOT read any more of my emails and that he was putting all my future emails in his automatic delete filter files and would not open anything I sent to him. Is that a way for a grown man, a PW gatekeep no less, to behave. He could have said “danny, sorry, this cli fi thing is not of interest to me, but try some of my other colleagues here at PW and see what they think. Someone might think it’s work linking to.” But no, he shut the gate, period. I was NOT ridiculing him at all. I was trying to wake him up from his busy schedule, and i was trying to wake him up about how cli fi as a new book genre MIGHT be useful to others in the book industry, frm agents to editors to publishers. When I wrote to the UK book sites, they all agreed to link to the Guardian and FT pieces. Only PW in the USA said “not interested.” So with the door close and the gate shut by the gatekeeper, i felt a humorous yet serious “open letter” in the old tradition of open letters might reach him, for a second opinion, since he already CUTOFF my emails to him. And Joe, sure, as editor at PW, Jim has every right to turn my request to link to the Guarduian piece about CLI FI, but you know that very same day he did LINK to a Guardian piece about “God and sci fi”. So my guess is he takes PR from people he knows and trusts, a good idea sure, and does not accept PR from strangers like me. I understand. Still, I still feel he is a good man and he will come up with a second opinion. My intention was not a public flogging or ridicule. I am not that kind of person. I love PW. I have read it since I was in college. PW will come around to CLI FI sooner or later. Probably a lot later than the UK media, but eventually, Jim will say okay, let the link fly. Why not? What could he be afraid of? Nothing. He made a quick hasty decision and told a man he had never met before “not interested.” At least he wrote back! The New York Times, who i also contacted about CLI FI, did not even answer my emails, talk about gatekeeping! SMILE….

  5. When i sent a copy of this open letter to a top writer in NYC, in his 70s,
    with more than 50 books under his name and still going, he understood my
    sense of humor and when I asked if he thought Mr Milliot might get angry at me for writing this, the Writer replied, also with a sense of humor: ”Get you into trouble? No, probably not. My guess is he’ll just remain, uh,
    not interested.”

  6. And a writer in Scotland, who writes cli fi himself and has been following the meme in the USA and UK, said of this letter and PW’s initial response: ”Wow, the term cli fi is really catching on! Shame that the book industry people are still “glazing over” about a topic that threatens to kill us all.”

  7. And a UK novelist told me via email today — ”Wow, that’s a beautifully crafted letter! My suspicion is that he’s “not interested” in the welfare of the planet, like so many other myopic, frightened, greedy businesspeople. (But don’t quote me in that!)”

  8. Well, why not add these perennial sub-genres?

    Cri-Fi (Sad Fiction)
    Di-Fi (Princess Diana Fiction)
    Hi-Fi (Recreational Drug Usage Fiction)
    Kwai-Fi (Kung Fu Fan Fic)
    Pi-Fi (Math Themed Fiction)
    Thai-Fi (Fiction translated from the Siamese language)

    They’re just as good as Cli-Fi. I’m sure PW could find a use more genre terms.

  9. Well, why not add these perennial sub-genres?

    Cri-Fi (Sad Fiction
    Di-Fi (Princess Diana Fiction
    Hi-Fi (Recreational Drug Usage Fiction)
    Kwai-Fi (Kung Fu Fan Fic)
    Pi-Fi (Math Themed Fiction)
    Thai-Fi(Fiction translated from the Siamese language)

    They’re just as good as Cli-Fi. I’m sure PW could use more genre terms

  10. Ditto what Chris Meadows and Joe Wikert said. I know Jim Milliot. He’s is an open-minded champion of all publishing, incumbents and disruptors alike. Put yourself in the shoes of Jim or any other journalist. A top tier journalist gets hundreds, maybe thousands of pitches like yours each week. Every author or publisher they hear from sincerely thinks their story or story idea is worthy of promotion. Even if they like your story idea, a journalist can’t say yes to everyone. At least he gave you a courtesy of a reply. It’s not the journalist’s responsibility to tell you why they’re not interested. None of us are *entitled* to press coverage of our stories, ideas or initiatives. No journalist deserves an open letter like this simply for saying no.

    Clearly, this is a genre and topic for which you feel strong affinity. Consider posting your pitch in this thread and maybe others here can provide constructive feedback on how you might make your pitch more effective in the future. Your challenge – getting heard and getting press coverage – is one shared by everyone, so maybe this can become a true teachable moment rather than an unfair public flogging of a good man.

  11. A man named Jeez, a climate denialist, responded to the letter this way:

    ”No Danny. He’s not interested in your promotion of a group of self-indulgent, self-important, self-appointed messiahs with little to say, but lots of words to say it.”

    I REPLIED: True, Jeez, he is not interested, and he has every right to say no and not print the links, sure. He is the gatekeeper and he has been at it a long time. I respect his professionalism and even his decision not to run links to CLi FI news in the Guardian, sure, It’s his magazine. BUT Jeez, the next day he runs a link to the Guardian titled “God and science fiction.” So he is obviously aware of literary genres and the Guardian newspaper. But sure, he has every right to be “not interested”. i agree with you Jeez. Still, what would it hurt to let his PW readers know the link to CLI FI in the Guardian or even closer to home, the NPR news link? That is all I was saying, in a humorous/serious IS ANYBODY HOME way. Jim is a good man. I hope he responds. — Danny

  12. Mark Coker, v ery well said and I agree with you 100 percent. I wrote the letter in hopes of arriving at a teachable moment, and let’s hope this happens. Again, Mark, I want to stress that I was not *attacking” Jim Milliot, I was just addressing the letter in his name since he is listed on the PW masthead as editor of the daily ROUNDUP, but the letter was really adressed to PW as an institution. I was not singling out Mr Milliot, but I needed a name to address the letter to and he was it. I do apologize if the letter had any hurtful repercussions, but i am sure he never even heard of the open letter and has not read it. But again, Mark, I agree with you. And sure, he gets 200 pitches a day and he axes 99 percent of them. I know. I wasn’t angry with him. I love PW. My letter was no public flogging, sheesh, come on, Mark. I was just teasing him. But that said, I apologize. And to make this a teachable moment, good idea, sure, I am open to suggestions about how to get this CLI FI meme into PW or the American media in general, pro OR con. I am not a novelist or a publisher or an agent, I am a climate alarmist. Do you realize, Mark, that the world is burning, that the very future of the human species is at stake? I am sure you do. So please advise what I should do next. I am all ears.

    TODAY, Yahoo! News! ran this story so maybe PW will see it now and link to it. It’s up to the people who edit PW. I know they are overworked. I apologize to Jim and his friends here who felt i went overboard. Sorry.

    Sci Fi, Cli Fi ,We All Cry,– the End Is Nigh

    Yahoo Movies

    From Yahoo! Movies: by Dan Bloom

    Last month I noted here at TheWrap how two stories at
    NPR and the Christian Science Monitor catapulted the emerging literary and
    movie .

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