Blog Archives

Publishing and Marketing 09: Reading Women In SFF

This is my 400th post. Naturally, I thought that I would do something a bit different from all the reviews I’ve been doing of late, for almost four months now. Reviews are well and good, but that’s not all that this blog is about. It is also “A Place For The Unrestrained Consumption of Good Fiction”. And this means a lot of things. One of the foremost is talking about good fiction, or just fiction in general beyond the context of a review. And that’s what this post is about. I’ve touched on this topic a little in the past, but with this “anniversary” on hand, I feel it is a good time to talk about it some more.

Over a year and a half ago, a friend pointed out to me that my reviews were all disproportionately of fiction from men. It was an eye-opener. It wasn’t something that I had considered before, and I was startled that such a bias had crept into my current fiction consumption, despite the fact that I consumed a lot of fiction from women growing up. And that’s what I’m here to talk to you about.

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Publishing and Marketing 07: A Reviewer’s Self-Examination

A few days ago I came across a review of Mark Lawrence’s second Broken Empire novel, King of Thorns (link), which is up for nomination for the David Gemmell Legend Awards in the Legend category. The Legend Award is given to the Best Novel of the previous year. On Twitter and Facebook, I talked about how that review justified all my reasons and fears for not reading further into this series after my experiences with the first novel, Prince of Thorns (review).

My tweets eventually spawned off a discussion about negative reviews, which led into the review that forms the basis and reason for this entire post.  In January last year, reviewer Liz Bourke wrote about Michael J. Sullivan’s first Riyria Revelations novel, Theft of Swords (link). This review was brought to my attention by a friend on Twitter who had taken exception to the way that Liz Bourke took potshots at the author and his editors at Orbit Books.

Going through the review and the comments thread, some things become apparent to me as to the intent of the review, the tone it is written in, and what, ultimately, were the reactions. However, what really ended up happening was that it all sparked off some self-examination about negative reviews. And that’s what this post is all about.

So welcome to another Publishing and Marketing blogpost.

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Publishing and Marketing 05: The Reviewer Crossover

A couple months back I came across this blog post, in which a reviewer/blogger questioned herself regarding her worth as a blogger, and whether what she did mattered worth a damn. It is a very engaging blog post and raises several questions that I’ve asked myself several times since I read the post. Just the core idea of it is enough to spark off a flurry of questions.

As of writing this post, I had a rather brief discussion on Twitter with an author of several years’ standing and a reviewer I’ve been following for a while. The topic of this discussion: shouting in the void that is the internet and making oneself be heard among all the noise that is generated by the tens of thousands of bloggers out there. In an environment where new book blogs are cropping up almost everyday, where Goodreads and Amazon have given rise to an extremely prolific blog-reviewer culture, it is tough to be heard as someone who has something to contribute.

In previous installments of this column, I’ve talked about various things, whether they be publisher marketing strategies or industry controversies, or even spotlighting women in the industry. For this installment, I thought I’d do something a bit different from the usual.

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Publishing and Marketing 02: Night Shade Books

About a month ago, I posted my first Publishing & Marketing column on the blog, titled “Publisher Communication“. In it, I talked at length about the marketing approaches of various SFF publishers in the English-speaking markets. The post got a fair amount of attention in social media and over email, and I’m really pleased with how things turned out.

I initially intended for the second installment of this semi-regular column to get into more of the above topic, but then I decided against it, since something else happened around roughly the same time. It was announced in various places that Night Shade Books was a hair’s breadth away from declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that they were considering an asset (author contacts to be specific) sell-off to meet their debts and make sure that their authors, editors, cover artists, etc all got paid their respective dues. This is where Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing were stepping in as the potential buyers. But, things weren’t as promising as they seemed at first. The terms being offered by Skyhorse/Start meant that while everybody would be paid, they would not be paid anywhere near the full amount, especially not the authors.

Smarter and more publishing-savvy people than me have already talked at length about the details, so I’m not going to touch on any of that. There was even enough backlash from a LOT of people involved, the fan community and the SFF community that is, that Skyhorse/Start eventually were willing to offer better terms, although there were still some big concerns. Just do a google search and you’ll get a plethora of links and discussions about it.

The purpose of this column is to talk about my experiences with Night Shade’s publications, and why I think its rather tragic that they are going under and what it means for the SFF community as a whole.

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Publishing and Marketing 01: Publisher Communication

About 2 weeks ago, I asked readers if they would be interested in some sort of a semi-regular column on the blog, the core topic being publishing & marketing. The response on the blog itself was rather lukewarm, to be honest, but I did have some good, albeit short, conversations with people over Twitter and Facebook about this.

The whole idea for the column sprung out of the “disaster” earlier this month when it was revealed that Random House’ eBook-only imprint, Hydra, was contracting new authors on the conditions that there would be no advance payments (which disqualifies the imprint from being considered a publishable market according to the rules, regulations and guidelines of the Science Fiction Writers of America’s organisation), and that they wanted complete rights over the work in question, irrespective of medium/format. Their payment structure was also dubious, frontloading almost all the costs of publishing the author’s work on the author himself/herself. Such costs include editing, covers, marketing, and so on, from what I understand. John Scalzi has done two in-depth posts on the subject here and here.

online-relationships-300x189Given the amount of information out there already on this particular subject, the furor over which has caused Hydra to revise some of its terms and offer authors better payment plans after a VERY stern letter from the SFWA, I am not going to cover this for now. All I can say is that if you are looking to get published by such eBook-only imprints, and I stress eBook-only, then you damn well make sure that you do not sign away your rights for foreign translations, audiobooks, print, and so on. Other people have already said it best: make sure to get some legal opinion and at least ask around when you get that contract. Make sure that you are informed about what you should and should not be doing.

Anyhow. Moving on.

For this first installment in this column series, I wanted to talk about publisher communication. Communication is a funny thing. We all define it quite differently and it means different things for different people. The specific area I want to cover today is how publisher communication works with marketing in the context of keeping readers and reviewers (they need not be mutually exclusive) informed and keeping a positive dialogue open. So here we go! Read the rest of this entry

Publishing & Marketing Column

For the last couple of months I’ve been considering doing a semi-regular column on the publishing industry. Specifically, I’ve been considering the aspect of marketing and getting published. The basis for both is, of course, personal experience in the case of the former and my observations over the last 18 months for the latter.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had about this.

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