Thursday, April 30, 2009

April End Links & Things

These links are from my previous tweets for the latter half of this month. I've listed them here, all in one post, and with additional detail (and occasional editorial comment, since I am an editor!). This allows me to have a somewhat permanent file of all these links. And hopefully you'll find something of interest here, especially if you're not following me on Twitter.

  • In July 2008, author Lynn Viehl's sixth Darkyn novel, Twilight Fall, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at #19. She promised her writer friends a few years ago that if one of her books ever made "the list" she would share all the information she was given by her publisher about the book "so writers could really see what it takes to get there." And here is that information, including her complete first royalty statement! Along with all 330 comments as of April 27, when the author turned off comments on this article. Great piece! (via @deanwesleysmith)

  • From Publishers Weekly for 4/20/2009: Jonathan Karp’s article "This Is Your Wake-up Call: 12 Steps to Better Book Publishing." Did you know that there is an illustrated gift book available entitled A History of Cannibalism? Obviously something we all need to buy for those on our holiday list who are difficult to please. (via @RickKlaw, @ColleenLindsay, and @sarahw)

  • Self-Publishing Review has an excellent interview with Carol Buchanan, author of the self-published God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, which won the 2009 SPUR Award (Western Writers of America) for best first novel. And she did it all, according to the interview, for the paltry sum of $600.00. [See my "Mid-April Links & Things" for more information on this book and the SPUR Awards.]

  • Author Jay Lake on Andrew's Fox's The Good Humor Man, Or Calorie 3501 (Tachyon Publications, and edited by yours truly): "The jacket copy compares it to Fahrenheit 451, but I'll go with a blend of Don Quixote and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

    An update today: The Good Humor Man has received a starred review in Booklist, for May 15, 2009 -- but there is no need to wait: you can read the
    starred review now.

  • Sarah Weinman, in her blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, shares with us a publisher's letter to booksellers that was included in an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) for James Ellroy's novel Blood's a Rover. The letter itself is from the author; here's an excerpt: "Knopf will drop this atom bomb of a book on you September 22. Your job is to groove it and grok its groin-grabbing gravity between now and then.... The novel covers 1968-1972. It's a baaaaaad-ass historical romance -- huge in scope, deep in its exploration of the era, filled with my trademark craaaaazy shit, and suffused with a heightened sense of belief and the corollaries of political conversation and revolution." You need to read this letter!

  • I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the passing of author Ken Rand on April 21; I only knew Ken virtually, but his emails always reflected his kind heart. He sent me a submission query in October 2006 for his novel A Cold Day in Hell, but unfortunately, I had already given notice, so to speak, at Golden Gryphon Press, and at the time I wasn't acquiring for any other publishers. The book was finally published this February by Norilana Books, so I'm pleased that Ken got to see the book in print. Ken is also the author of a wonderful chapbook on self-editing entitled The 10% Solution, from Fairwood Press, who also published a number of Ken's nonfiction and short story collections. Fairwood Press Publisher Patrick Swenson posted some heartfelt memories of Ken Rand, along with a wonderful photograph; lots of readers comment, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fantastic Books Acquisitions

In a previous blog post I announced my new working relationship with Warren Lapine and his imprint Fantastic Books. Well, since that annoucement was released to the press on February 3, I just wanted you to know that I haven't been resting on my laurels (what a ridiculous phrase -- this particular genus of evergreen contains black berries, not something I would choose to rest on!).

Here is a list of titles, and authors (in alphabetical order), that I have acquired reprint rights to for Fantastic Books:

Paul Di Filippo
Fuzzy Dice

Judith Moffett

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The White Mists of Power
Heart Readers
Sins of the Blood
The Devil's Churn
The Fey #1: Sacrifice
The Fey #2: Changeling
The Fey #3: Rival
The Fey #4: Resistance
The Fey #5: Victory
Alien Influences

Dean Wesley Smith
Laying the Music To Rest

In addition to these authors, I am also in talks with four others, who shall remain nameless until (hopefully) contracts are signed.

Our goal at Fantastic Books is to help authors make their out-of-print backlist available once again, so that the authors generate some income from the sale of their titles (whereas authors make nothing from the used book market).

I'm looking for OOP backlist genre fiction, preferably novels, but I will also consider collections (especially if you have been recognized for your short fiction) and even previously unpublished fiction. If you are an author and have out-of-print work that you would like to see in print again -- or new fiction in search of a POD publisher -- please do contact me.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Rightly Reconsidering (Book) Reviews

Are book reviews (and by default, book reviewers) so sacrosanct as to be above reproach?

Authors -- and yes, editors and publishers as well -- are taught at a very young age in their professional careers to ignore reviews, to not take them personally, to turn the other cheek, so to speak. And why is that? Why can't we respond to reviews?

Because we will give the impression that we are unprofessional, that we are whiners. At least that's what our peers -- and possibly readers of the review -- may think. But from our own perspective, we also have to worry that we'll piss off the reviewer by our response, and then that reviewer will take it out on us a hundredfold in the next review, if in fact there even is a next review. And then others may not want to review our work for fear of receiving such a response as well. And as
Cheryl Morgan (a book reviewer and critic) just pointed out to me: "...if an author challenges a review, his fans will go after the reviewer, whether he wants them to or not."

Reviews/reviewers and authors are sort of like the separation between Church and State. Yet the incoming president takes the oath of office with his hand upon a Bible; and the coin of the realm all proclaim "In God We Trust."

So where does that leave us?

Some authors I know truly don't care about reviews, reviewers, or what others think of their stories. Once they've completed a work of fiction and it's been accepted by the editor, they then move on to the next project and never look back. While other authors are deeply concerned -- and affected -- by reviews and what others think of their fiction.

I worked with an author on her short fiction collection, and after the book was published we stayed in contact with one another for a bit. The following year her next novel was published, and it was reviewed in Locus magazine -- a mediocre review at best, but at least it wasn't blatantly negative. (Locus, though, doesn't typically publish blatantly negative reviews; I assume if the book is that bad, they simply choose not to review it, so a mediocre review in Locus, when all is said and done, is definitely not a good review.) What upset the author the most, however, was that the reviewer missed a key element of the story -- and that key element would have explained the reviewer's primary issue with the novel (and maybe then the review wouldn't have been mediocre). Locus, at the time, was considered a highly influential publication (though not so much anymore, now that we are solidly in the digital age, and readers, book buyers, and book collectors get the majority of their information and reviews online), so even a mediocre review could have a strong, negative sales effect on a book. But we'll never know, will we: missed opportunities -- aka sales -- cannot be measured.

But the question(s) remains: Did the reviewer blow it big time by missing that key element of the story? Or, did the author -- and, let's be honest, the book's editor shares responsibility in this as well -- blow it big time by not communicating that key element more effectively to the reader/reviewer? If every review of the novel contained this same "omission," then yes, we could agree that the fault lies with the author, and the author's editor. But if only one review were guilty of this oversight, then the finger would indeed point to the reviewer. If the review was on Joe's Friendly Neighborhood blog, then I don't think the author (and editor and publisher) would be particularly concerned; but when that mediocre review shows up in the Washington Post Book World or Publishers Weekly (before Reed Business Information tried to sell the publication, and, to reduce costs, began paying freelance reviewers $25.00 per review; read more about
PW's freelance fees), then we know sales will most likely be affected.

Unfortunately, given the Church and State dichotomy, the author has no recourse but to grin and bear it -- or to hit his [the generic use of "his," implying both male and female authors] head against the wall and scream, if he tends to not be the silent type.

And yet, I'm encountering more and more reviews of late where the reviewer just doesn't seem to get it! Why is that? [Notice I keep asking this same question a lot.] Is it the reviewer's lack of experience and knowledge in the genre? It's difficult to say, unless one knows the reviewer personally, or the reviewer provides a professional bio alongside the review. And all of this places even more pressure on the author who cares about what others say of his work.

Here's my take on the three main issues with genre reviews; they are like the plague, and they are spreading...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mid-April Links & Things

These links are from my previous tweets so far this month. I've listed them here, all in one post, and with additional detail (and occasional editorial comment, since I am an editor!). This allows me to have a somewhat permanent file of all these links. And hopefully you'll find something of interest here, especially if you're not following me on Twitter.

I originally planned to post "Links & Things" just once each month, but there have been so many (too many!) links that I've accumulated up to this point in April -- 18 so far -- that I wanted to post these now before the number became too overwhelming.

  • Carol A. Buchanan's self-published novel God's Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana (BookSurge LLC) wins a major literary award: the 2009 Western Writers of America SPUR Award for best first novel. Details are available in Self-Publishing Review; and you can read further on the 2009 SPUR Awards.

    The SPR piece poses these questions and comments: Where was BookSurge is owned by Amazon, yet until Ms. Buchanan posted her blog entry about the award on Amazon, there was no mention anywhere of the book having won this award. Isn't Amazon in the business of selling books?

  • Writing Forward blog: "18 Do-it-Yourself Proofreading Tips." (courtesy of @nickdaws)

  • Charlie Jane Anders on io9 writes: "What's the Difference Between Story and Plot?" with quotes from Samuel Delany and Connie Willis. The article is interspersed with wonderful cover art from Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine. And there's a lot of reader feedback in the "Comments" section, too.

  • Author Angela Slatter blogs about "Stray Thoughts on Long Sentences," quoting quite nicely from works by "Captain" Jeff VanderMeer. One of her concluding comments, which is a personal favorite of mine as well, is: "'s fine to break the rules, to do something new, but man, shouldn't you know what the rules are first?" (via

Saturday, April 11, 2009

George Alec Effinger

This is part one of a planned three-part blog posting on author George Alec Effinger, one part pertaining to each of the three volumes of his work that I acquired and edited for Golden Gryphon Press. In this first part, I'd like to step you through my correspondence with George leading up to the publication of Budayeen Nights, the first collection, published in hardcover in 2003 and reprinted in trade paperback this past September.

I've always been a fan of George Alec Effinger's work (as if you couldn't tell from reading my previous blog entries). His Budayeen novels (When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun, and The Exile Kiss) did indeed impress me, but I was more captivated with his short fiction: the subtlety of his writing, his sardonic wit, his very unique craft and range. In my opinion, George is (was) one of the most underrated and underappreciated authors within the science fiction and fantasy genre, and much of his lack of notoriety was due to his chronic illness, which affected his output over the years. By 2001, when I first made contact with George, I believe all of his published work was out of print, though all were obviously still available through the used book market. As an acquisitions editor with Golden Gryphon Press, from 1999 through 2007, I was finally in a position to do something about bringing attention to his work once again.

I knew that George surfed the Usenet groups and thus I was able to track him down in this fashion. Between late July 2001 and early April 2002, I received a total of eleven emails from George. I probably sent him three times as many in return, but I was grateful to have received the few emails from him that I did. At the time, I knew somewhat of George's medical problems and financial difficulties; what I didn't know is that, because of past due medical bills, a local (New Orleans) hospital had threatened ownership of George's intellectual property in order to recoup their expenses. Because of this, for a number of years, George only wrote stories for themed anthologies so that he would at least have some income, while refusing to write any further work involving his own characters and worlds. He should have written the fourth Budayeen novel, continuing the tale of Marîd Audran -- it's what his fans and readers were clamoring for, and the only real source of income before him -- but George didn't want the hospital's lawyers to become any wealthier off of his work, and so he continued his "for hire" writing. Fortunately, the legal case was dropped when the lawyers failed to appear for a court hearing, and George finally got his life -- and his characters -- back. But the damage was done; the best writing years of George's life were now behind him, as I would soon learn.

In my first email to George, I introduced myself and provided some details on books that I had previously edited, and then I presented a couple ideas to him. George's response, on July 31, 2001, was very brief but to the point; he wrote: "I am flattered by both your suggestions. I've been frustrated by how the whole body of my 30-years' work has already disappeared. Please let me know how I can help you in your projects."

I was so excited, I responded that very same day, but it was another month, on August 30, before I received a reply. George suggested a collection featuring "a hefty selection of my 200 stories, with introductions to each one, and calling it GAE: The White Album or GAE Live! At the Village Gate or . . . GAE: The Prairie Years." I again responded immediately, but a number of months went by with no word from George. In fact, I had to go through another individual in New Orleans who tracked George down and told him that he needed to contact me. I learned much later that during these months George's health and housing issues had once again returned to impact the quality of his life; he had no regular Internet access because he was being shuffled from one residence to another.

Finally, on February 25, 2002, I received an email from George. He informed me that he's "online regularly now and back to work, too," and concluded his brief email with: "Let's get to work! I could use... a good project to work on, and something to put out so that people will realize I'm still around and kicking. Typing, I mean." Even in the few short sentences contained within this communication, I could sense his new-found energy, and I was anxious to get to work on a project with him as well. Earlier, George had also suggested a collection of his Budayeen stories, and since I felt these stories had the most commercial potential, given the continued popularity of his Budayeen novels, this was the book we began work on first.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March Links & Things

These links are from my previous tweets over the past month. I've listed them here, all in one post, and with additional detail. This allows me to have a somewhat permanent file of all these links. And hopefully you'll find something of interest here, especially if you're not following me on Twitter. – a hub for all things publishing: Associations, Bookbinding, Careers, Copyrights, Distribution, Editorial, Indexing, Libraries, Literary Agents, Printing, Publishing, and much, much more – for book, audiobook, magazine, newsletter, e-book, and e-zine publishing.

From the an article on how to "upload" files (other than image and video files) to your Blogger blog. [Note: the article recommends setting up a Google Pages account, but Google has recently announced that they are no longer accepting new accounts; so, read the "Comments" section in this article, in which the author recommends a account in place of Google Pages.]

Author Tobias Buckell's book on writing, A Draft in Progress, will be published in segments online; he’s using previous blog posts as the basis for the book. The
Introduction and Chapter One are currently available.

Courtesy of Gwenda Bond:
The Second Pass -- a new website that reviews both old and new books. Check it out, and you can sign up for their e-newsletter.

Courtesy of Matt Staggs: Mississippi's Clarion Ledger for March 12 has a piece on MidSouthCon, March 20-22; mention is made of Andrew Fox's new book, The Good Humor Man, Or, Calorie 3501.