Category Archives: electronic publication

Paying for Reviews

Apparently you can get as many positive reviews for your books as you want.  Provided you’re prepared to buy them in lots, of course. At least according to this story in the New York Times.  I consider services like this to be about on the same level as those that sell term papers.  And since I commit dayjobbery in academia, you can probably guess where that level is.  Somewhere beneath pond scum.

I want to state for the record that I have never accepted payment for any review.  I have received free books for review, but that’s an accepted practice.  Most of the reviews I post here are positive.  That’s because I have a good idea of what I like and tend to pick books that I’m predisposed to enjoy.  Some bloggers seem to take great pride in tearing a book apart.  That’s not my intention.  Usually if I can’t find some positive things to say about a book or story, I probably won’t review it.  That’s a personal choice I make.

Which is not to say I won’t write a negative review.  I’ve written a few, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.  As I said, I have a good idea what I like and tend to choose things for review I think I’ll enjoy.

The difference between anonymous product reviews and reviews on blogs such as this one is that with a blog, the readers can comment, take part in discussions, and develop relationships with the reviewer.  This allows a degree of trust to form over time.  Even when the reader doesn’t agree with the reviewer, the relationship can be beneficial.  There are certain reviewers who help me select reading material by the fact that we are so opposite.  If they love a book, I know it’s one I probably want to avoid, and vice-versa.  Hopefully, the reviews I post here will be helpful, whether to point you to books/stories/films you might like or to warn you away.

From what I can tell, there’s been an increased interest in reviewing on the internet over the last month or so, an increase that just spiked with the Times story.  I wanted to toss my two cents in.  I may visit this topic again when my schedule settles down and the semester is fully underway.

Hugo and Campbell Awards Nominees

This year’s nominees for the Hugo and Campbell Awards have been posted.  Locus Online has the complete list here, as does the Renovation site.

Congratulations and good luck to all nominees.

I don’t have much to say except I don’t see much in the way of sword and sorcery, at least not that I recognize.  I haven’t read nearly as many of the nominees as I should have.  A few of the titles I’m not familiar with, so there may be some S&S I’m not recognizing.  Disappointing, but not surprising.

The second thing I find interesting is in the short story category.  All the other fiction categories (novel, novella, novelette) have five nominees, while the short story only has four.  That’s assuming there’s not an error, and one was inadvertently left off.  Of those four, only one, “For Want of a Nail”, by Mary Robinette Kowal, was published in a print magazine (Asimov’s, Sept. 2010).  The others were published online.  All of the novelette and all but one of the novella nominees were published in print venues.

New Rogue Blades Entertainment E-Anthologies Announced

After the week I’ve had, I was looking for something short and sweet to blog about tonight, wanting to wait until I was rested a little before tackling a longer post.  Fortunately, Rogue Blades Entertainment has come to my rescue.  (Thanks, Jason.)

To promote the forthcoming Clash of Steel anthology Assassins, Rogue Blades is publishing four e-anthologies consisting of four stories each.  These stories are different than those included in the print anthology, the cover of which is shown on the right.  Each e-anthology will sell for $3 and will contain between 15,000 and 18,000 words of sword and sorcery fiction.  Since the going price for a single short story in electronic format is 99 cents, that makes these collections a steal.  Or would that be steel?  Anyway, there will be one released a month for four months, starting in February.

You can get all the details here.

Electronic Markets 2

 The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 5
Jonathan Strahan, ed.
Night Shade Books
Trade Paperback, 500 p., $19.99
Publication scheduled for March 2011

A few weeks ago, I looked at the table of contents in Rich Horton’s forthcoming Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011.  At the time, I commented on the proportion of selections published in electronic venues as opposed to print venues and speculated as to what the percentage would be in the other annual “Bests”.  Since Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year is due out in March, I particularly wondered about that one.  Night Shade Books had posted a page for the anthology but had not (and still hasn’t) listed the contents. Oldcharliebrown posted a comment (thank you) informing me Strahan had listed his ToC on his website.  Why I didn’t think to look there, I don’t know.  Anyway, Strahan, unlike Horton, didn’t list the publications for his selections.  Rather than reproduce the list myself, you can find it here.  I spent a little time last night looking them up, and here’s what I found.

Strahan selected 29 stories, with 6 duplicating Rich Horton’s selections.  Those stories are the ones by Broderick, Hand, Landis, Parker, Swirsky, and Watts.  This isn’t surprising, since each year there are a handful of stories that make all, or nearly all, the annual “Best” lists.  The good thing is that there are so few duplicates.  I think that shows a healthy variety in the science fiction and fantasy fields.  What is a little surprising is that four of those were published electronically, with three coming from Subterranean

Anyway, of these 29, 13 were published in electronic format, or 44.5 %.  That’s slightly lower than Horton’s53.5%, but still a respectable portion from electronic media.  Of those 13, Subterranean was the big winner, with five selections.  Strange Horizons was next with three, and Apex followed with two.  Strahan selected one each from Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and  The electronic venues not represented that were most surprising were Fantasy magazine and Horton chose four stories from Fantasy and one from Tor.  Clearly the editors have different tastes.

Where Strahan’s selections really get interesting to me is the print sources for his selections.  He picked one story each from eight different anthologies, plus two from Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio.  One story was published as a chap book, and the remaining five came from magazines, with four from Asimov’s and one from F&SF.  As in the Horton anthology, no stories were selected from Analog, nor were any from Interzone, Weird Tales, Realms of Fantasy, or Postscripts, although Postscripts is now an anthology rather than a print magazine.  I don’t remember if they made the change this past year or the previous one; probably the previous.  Time slips away when you start getting older.  And given the problems RoF had this past year, it’s not surprising to see that publication’s absence.

It seems to me that the print magazines haven’t done too well this year in terms of getting tapped for Year’s Best anthologies.  While Asimov’s appears to be something of an exception, on the whole they seem to be taking a pounding from the electronic and anthology markets.  At least Analog certainly is.  Being a hard science kind of guy, that disturbs me a little, but that’s a topic too large for this post.  I’m not sure that’s an entirely bad thing from the standpoint of good markets and good fiction being published, whatever the format.  Of course, the Hartwell/Cramer and Dozois volumes are still to come, and I’m sure there will be one or two others that will pop up.  It will be interesting to see where these volumes draw their choices.

This is the first year I’ve looked closely at the publication sources for any of the Year’s Best collections, at least from a pseudo-statistical standpoint.  I have both the Horton and Strahan titles going back to their inceptions, so I could take a closer look (if I can find the time).  It would be fun to look at just when the electronic venues began to make such inroads on the print media.

And for those you haven’t seen it but might be interested, Lois Tilton summarized the short fiction markets at Locus Online recently.  I’ll not comment on what she says because she reads far more widely than I have time to, and I don’t see the point in potentially starting an argument that I’m not well enough informed on.  I’ll just say she brings up some good points about the same venues producing the best quality.