5 most useful pieces of advice from Sean Stewart

Many, many moons ago I attended Clarion East when it was still held at Michigan State University. It was six weeks of writing, bitching, kibbitzing, critiquing, and otherwise marveling at our collective brilliance while lamenting our misunderstood genius by the public at large and short story editors in particular. Some of the instructors attempted to give us a reality check, and the wit and wisdom of Sean Stewart stuck with me. I recently found a nugget of his on another instructor’s website whom I enjoyed as well, Maureen McHugh. If you’re writing a novel, and if you’re reading this blog you probably are, then take a moment and have a look at this.

Bantam Dell tries a two-pronged approach

It’s the rare book that is in more than one format at a time (not counting audio, large print etc.) so this gamble by Bantam Dell sounds on the surface to be a bit risky. But perhaps not. The logic has been that some people want to purchase a book at the lowest price while others want something more respectable or enduring on their shelves, or perhaps with slightly larger print. The price and quality gulf between mass markets and hard covers is huge, but not nearly as much between mass markets and trade paperbacks. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For authors, it means two simultaneous royalty streams – 8% on $7.99 on the mass market and 7.5% – 8% on maybe $12.95 for the trade paperback. My publisher (speaking with my author hat on) Pocket Books of S&S, were the pioneers I believe of the split the difference approach with the premium mass market. These are taller than normal mass markets with heftier prices – $9.99. Publishing is roundly criticized for being resistant to change, so this experiment is noteworthy if for no other reason than they’re trying something different.

An amusing find

It’s a rainy evening here in the Big Apple so I figured I’d stay in and indulge in a little online narcissism and look up my name on the internet. In addition to apparently being an actor of questionable talent in the Fantastic Four movie franchise I discovered I’ve provided amusement with my recent book deal in an overview of the SF&F publishing genre here.

The article provides a lot of details that you may find interesting:

* There is a huge audience for “immersive” works of epic fantasy
* More and more SF/Fantasy titles are being released as original hardcovers
* Trend is away from mass market editions (and toward trade paperbacks)
* Fantasy outsells SF
* SF is a very conservative genre
* Romantic fantasies and other cross-genres are hot
* “Space operas” (SF epics) are becoming increasingly popular
* Genre novels are becoming more “literary,” with covers to match
* Global warming is hot (pun intended)
* Smarter, more empowered (aggressive) females drive fantasy chic-lit
* More tie-ins with games than movies
* SF “trending younger” with urban fiction and Manga
* Fantasy becoming darker and increasingly enamored of vampires
* Military SF continues to be popular

What an odd feeling

I’ve handled hundreds of book contracts in my career as an editor, but today was the first time I received one as a writer. It looks just like all the others except for one important difference, this one has my name on it. I thought I’d be blase about it, but you know, I couldn’t stop grinning as I read through all seventeen pages of it. What a neat feeling.