My thoughts are with the city of Boston today, I hope for healing for them in this difficult time.
Neil Gaiman gave a speech that he said, “went down like a lead balloon” at the London Book Fair yesterday. He urged people in the book business, especially the major players to, “try everything. Make mistakes. Surprise ourselves. Try anything else. Fail. Fail better. And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago.”
This is actually a common undercurrent in the publishing industry right now, I recently attended a conference for my day job that was very much about the concept of what’s been coined, “disruptive innovation”. The problem that I’ve seen is that while there are players like Gaiman who have the weight to throw around and say such daring things, the folks who actually hold the purse strings are from the same old guard who rely on conservative business models and depend on the whims of their investors or stakeholders. Ultimately, I think that the real disruption will come from those who aren’t power players. Smaller and newer organizations don’t have the same need to maintain their legacy products that established media brands do. Having said that, to again quote Gaiman, “anyone who tells you they know what’s coming, what things will be like in 10 years’ time, is simply lying to you.”
As a constant blogger, it’s challenging to stay fresh and engaging. For example, I do this Morning Cuppa post just about every day. Sometimes I wonder if having it on a daily basis leads to reader fatigue though. One of the trends that I’ve noticed is that on days where I have a unique blog post as well as my Morning Cuppa post, my traffic experiences a significant spike. I’ve played around with the idea of breaking up these posts into several posts and scheduling them to go up throughout the day but thusfar haven’t taken action on it. Also, I know that interviewing authors, writing about my own writing adventure, etc. have been great ways to bring new readers in. It’s always good however, to look at what you’re doing and try to decide if it could be improved upon. Tammy Sparks has 10 good suggestions for improving (or starting) your blog.
Michael Stackpole has reversed course and has posted on his blog that he will now be signing the new Nightshade/Skyhorse book deal. He cites that the new contract has been heavily amended from the original. While there are some concessions he had to make, he feels like some of the bigger problems he had with the original deal have been sufficiently addressed.
Happy Friday folks, we’re almost to the blessed weekend where we’ll all party too hard and come back worse for the wear on Monday.
The Clarke Awards shortlist was announced yesterday and many were surprised to see that it was occupied solely by men. Folks were even more surprised when they found out that the committee involved in the selection was all women. Liz Williams, who was a member of the judging panel and a self-described feminist, wrote on the Guardian that the problem was more with the submissions they received falling more in the fantasy realm than in scifi. She stated with some pride that the selections this year were a return to the “sensawunda” and critical thought that many have complained has been lacking in previous years. She also said that, “as a feminist, I am opposed to including women writers in shortlists just because they are female.”
Michael Stackpole writes in regards to the terms of the Night Shade Books deal, thanks but no thanks. The terms that he and all the other NSB authors are being asked to agree to aren’t incentive enough for him to agree. He outlines a staggering reduction in royalties and a hazy view of what his rights are to some formats of his material as key reasons.
Considering his enormous cultural importance and the fact that he was a brilliant mind and a great human being, it feels only appropriate that I should mention the passing of Roger Ebert, at the age of 70, to cancer.
For the handful of people who visit me daily, I want to apologize for my site being down yesterday. According to my web host, there was a DDoS attack being launched from the same IP cluster that my blog sits on. So they had to isolate my DNS cluster and figure out which one of us that sits on that block was behaving badly. If that’s too technical for you, just nod and smile at me, it’s over now and hopefully won’t happen again.
In other news, hey, it’s Friday em effers! While you’re counting down the hours until your no-pants-dance can begin, please enjoy some links from me.
Today is International Women’s Day, in honor of the accomplishments of women’s struggles everywhere for basic human rights, I’d like to share this short video about women in science fiction and fantasy:
Michael Stackpole, he of the astoundingly awesome writing classes, offers up his 7 Traits of Enduring Characters. Mike has an astounding ability to take all of the writing questions you never even knew you had and answer them, leaving you with that delighted, AHA! expression on your face.
For those of you who haven’t been watching the back-and-forth between Random House’s new Hydra imprint and the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA), the SFWA has deemed that Hydra is not an eligible market for membership within the SFWA after examining the terms of the standard contract they offer authors. Hydra doesn’t offer an advance and puts the burden of editing and artwork on the author, which goes against the traditional reasons anyone would choose to partner with a publisher. Random House quickly responded that they were viewing this as a new type of partnership, that was “potentially lucrative”. Finally, the board of the SFWA responded that they had delisted Hydra and another Random House ebook only imprint, Alibi. As of today, that’s where it sits. It should be noted that what Random House is toying with is removing all of the risk from their publishing model by forcing authors to pay for everything up front. This is very similar to what is known as the “vanity publishing” model.