Science fiction and fantasy                                            



A Rising Tide Floats All Boats

30th July 2012





   

Musings and rants

Nine Political Books That Change The Conversation
Following news that Simon and Schuster plan to publish an inflammatory commentator, here are nine political books that deserve more attention.

Penguin Random House Withdraws Union Recognition
Penguin Random House have decided not to recognise Unite and the NUJ as a result of staff negotiations, leaving the publisher with a stain on its reputation as an employer.

Authors Support Stop Funding Hate
Some authors have had enough of divisive and xenophobic elements in the British press, and are willing to make an ethical stand.

Women In SFF: Indie Edition
A list of indie and self-published women writing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fiction genres.

Amazon Finally Makes KU Appealing For Novelists
The new per-page payout for the Kindle Unlimited subscription service makes it a much better deal for authors of longer novels.

Thoughts On The Sieghart Report On Libraries
The Sieghart report on libraries missed its mark by miles. Yet the real cause of the decline of the UK library network is depressingly obvious.

A Shout-Out For The Good Guys
When nastiness dominates online conversations about books it is time to appreciate the well-behaved authors.

Critique Circle: Shaping Fabulous Stories
The appeal of a certain writing critique website. Or, why I have neglected this blog.

Where Shall I Point This Pitchfork?
Some thoughts on Jonathan Ross, Loncon, and the twitchfork mob.

Reading Is Not A Race
Why I will be abandoning annual reading challenges in 2014.

What Book Discovery Is Missing
The current state of book discovery is narrowing our reading choices and squeezing out midlist writers. How can it be fixed?

An Explosion Of Discovery Tools
New book discovery engines are popping up all over the web. But which ones will come out on top?

Blog Tours From Both Sides
Blog tours are the lastest marketing fad. But what are the pros and cons of this kind of publicity?

It's Not Your Story Any More
When a book is published, authors lose control over how the story should be read. They should let go the reins and enjoy the ride.

Same Old, Same Old
Are current methods of book discovery pushing us further away from original literature?

Female Protagonists In Genre Fiction
A list of recommended SFF books for adults which feature a female as the main character.

Is This The End Of Sweeping Vistas?
Do recent trends in fantasy art styles and the constraints of online book discovery mark the decline of landscape cover art?

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats
Authors: stop thinking of other writers as your rivals. They're not the enemy.

Reviews Are Useless Without Context
With so many review blogs, quick ways of understanding their authors are more important than ever.

Great Scriptwriters: Sometimes Overlooked, Always Vital
Sometimes it seems like the only way to get known as a scriptwriter is to do something else entirely.

50 Shades of this, 50 Shades of that. It seems like everywhere you look someone has an opinion on the bestselling book. If only someone had thought of writing erotica before 2012.

Of course they did, and Sylvia Day's Bared To You is creeping up the bestseller lists in 50 Shades' wake, as is Marina Anderson's Haven of Obedience. The whole erotica genre is enjoying a resurgence as readers finish E.L. James' trilogy and ask, "if I liked 50 Shades of Grey, what else will I like?"

This is great news for writers such as Laurell K. Hamilton, whose work steams like an orgy of kettles. But there's a lesson in here for anyone involved in publishing, I think.

Dragons, Magic and Swords, Oh, My!

Epic fantasy is hot with commissioning editors at the moment, according to this post at Pubrants. It seems that in the wake of A Game of Thrones and The Hobbit, people are starting to remember what they loved about the genre, and the search is on for the next big, sprawling, dragon-infested quest to save a world we'd never heard of and can't pronounce.

This news gratifies me no end. For one thing, I have my own epic fantasy novel, Melody of Demons, in submission. Moreover, if I read nothing for the next six months except books about elves, dungeons, high magic and weird places, I'd be in heaven. Or the Six Duchies, Rolencia, Cenaria, or even Villjamur. There's so much you can do with made-up worlds.

Also, it's about time someone made Robin Hobb's Farseer books into a movie. That would be awesome.

Leather Pants

So with all this evidence that one author's success breeds success for others in their genre, I really don't understand Stephen Leather's approach. There's a good round-up of the kerfuffle on Steve Mosby's blog. If you're not already familiar with it, Stephen Leather has been called out for sock puppetry and bullying tactics by Jeremy Duns, and in particular for writing scathing one-star reviews of the work of rival author Steve Roach.

The ethics of this tactic are pretty pathetic, that much is obvious. But what the buzz around 50 Shades and epic fantasy shows is that wantonly knocking fellow authors is also counter-productive.

I don't believe writers have to hold off from ever criticising each other's work, because that would stifle free speech and seem a bit phoney. But nor should they treat other writers as competition that must be sabotaged at every opportunity. Even for those who don't get caught (or admit to such behaviour at a packed crime festival), it's a waste of energy when being supportive and nurturing talent in your genre is so much more profitable.