Thursday 30 December 2010

Indie/Small Press YA publishers of genre

So I've been wondering for a while if there are many small presses that publish genre novels for a young adult readership. (By "genre" I mainly mean speculative and weird, or sci-fi/fantasy/horror, if you prefer.) My main interest is that I'd like TFF to move in the direction of reviewing children's and YA literature in addition to the material we currently cover, and we focus on the small and indie press. Others will have different uses for this information (if they're writers, readers, artists or publishers themselves, say). And that said, I don't know what we'll actually do with this list when we have it.

I should confess I haven't been looking very hard; I asked around on Twitter a few weeks ago, and I've done a bit of Googling and browsing Duotrope, so I bet I've missed plenty. (Not checked Litmags, Ralan or E-Zines, for example. Not looked at the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.) But I thought I'd post the results of my first trawl to see what others can add.

Here's the preliminary list of small or indie presses who seem to have interest both in YA novels and in speculative/weird fiction (except where noted, I've not always yet been able to ascertain that they have published anything that is both at once; bolded titles seem the most focused on the combination in question).
We'd be very grateful to be told of any omissions from this list, or anything I've erroneously included. (I have consciously excluded any press that explicitly rejects any LGBT or "alternative" content, or that seems only or primarily to deal in religious/spiritual material.)

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Print ad for TFF Reviews

Any suggestions on improving the look or "impact" of this ad? It's currently designed for 300dpi at 2.5" x 4", but I can mess around with that for other versions.

Any ideas on print venues to place this ad? Our budget is limited...

Saturday 25 December 2010

Has a bad review ever made you buy a book?

Publishers often say that all publicity is good publicity; in a world where the economics of attention (how do you get noticed in a deluge of print, e-book, pro-, small- or self-published, promoted and even free fiction?) outweigh the economics of scarcity (make my product rare so I can charge more for it), I can see how this would be true. Anything that brings your product (in the case of publishers, the author) to the attention of the consumer (the reader) is a good thing, right? If you're in an airport wanting to grab a book for that flight, then a name you recognize, even if you don't quite remember from where, will get your attention before all the faceless authors on the shelf. I'm sure everyone who slated Dan Brown's writing style contributed to his blockbuster status, and no doubt Docx is delighted that so many intelligent and reasonable people disagree violently with his poorly thought out rant about genre fiction. In theory, all this works fine.

But I'm curious: does this work in particular cases? Has a bad review ever made you go out and buy a book?

I can think of two reasons (and a commentator on Twitter suggested a third) this might happen:

  1. the reviewer is obviously incompetent, tasteless and/or morally repugnant, to the degree that when s/he says, "This is the most boring/slow/pinko book I've ever read!" you realize this means it might have some depth/intelligence to it;
  2. the reviewer has some valid criticisms of the book, but despite (or because) of those you think you might like it anyway (this happened to me recently with some customer reviews on Amazon of Catherynne Valente's Palimpsest, where the most popular reviews are negative, but one complained about fluid sexuality, and another said the language was too poetic--both fine by me!);
  3. (@ferretthimself suggests) that books that provoke emotional reactions and strong opinions are likely to be more interesting, and therefore worth reading.
I'm looking for concrete examples, what books have you been out and bought (downloaded, borrowed from library, etc.) on the basis of a bad review or recommendation? Was it a good idea?

Friday 12 November 2010

FAQ: How do I know you won't steal my story?

Every editor or publisher must have had emails like this, or received stories in "read-only" PDF format with (c)opyright notices slapped all over it, announcement that the author has also mailed a date-stamped copy of the story to his lawyer, etc.
Q. How do I know you won't steal my story and publish it under your own name without crediting or paying me?
A.1: A reputable publisher won't steal your story. They'd pretty soon go out of business if they got a reputation for doing that. (And for your information: attaching a copyright notice to an unpublished piece of work won't protect you anyway. You automatically have copyright to anything you publish [unless you've given it away]; unpublished work is a different kettle of fish. But IANAL.)

In the world of reputable publishers, this is fine advice. But we don't live in a world where everything is that simple. I can probably tell a reputable publisher from a fly-by-night pretty easily, but not every Internetizen is going to make that distinction, and there are people out there like Cook's Source who really will do (and apparently get away with for a long time) what the questioner seems to be fearing, so in this world, maybe a better answer is needed.

A.2: If you're concerned about your work being stolen by a publisher or magazine, I suggest you look around online for reviews of and/or references to the publisher in question; if they are a reputable and reasonably well-known publisher it's extremely unlikely they'd steal anyone's work. If they have done anything so unconscionable, it's very likely that you'll find reference online to them having done so. If there's nothing about them either way, then you just don't know. If you've found the publication in question via a writer's recourse such as Duotrope, then you have extra recourse in that you can report them there for abuse, leave a negative review, etc. (And again, if no one has done so, that's a good sign.) But really, if you don't have a special reason to suspect this publication, the odds are you should give them the benefit of the doubt.

I personally like to support the small press, and that means giving credit to tiny, obscure, and new publications who won't have much of an online presence yet, positive or negative testimonials, or any evidence for who they are. I give them the benefit of the doubt, and as a writer I've never been burned yet. (As an editor, on the other hand, I have been burned by reviewers who've given me reviews plagiarized from the Internet; I've received submisions that are allegedly unpublished but turned out to be reprints [of reprints]; I've received stories that are then withdrawn because they were [verboten] simultaneous submissions; I've received stories that were cut 'n' pasted from half a dozen different sources to create a surreal collage of plagiarism. I now check. Everything.)

Thursday 11 November 2010

British Government won't *disconnect* filesharers without trial

According to the British government's official response to the 35000+ signature petition to "abolish the proposed law that will see alleged illegal filesharers disconnected from their broadband connections without a fair trial", the "technical measures" against filesharers specified in the law in question would include measures to "limit or restrict an infringers' access to the internet" but "do not include disconnection". Sadly it doesn't say anything about the "infringers" being treated as guilty without trial or recourse to appeal, so actually pretty much ignores the concerns of the petition.

More worrying than this, however, which at least answers the letter (if not the spirit) of the protest, is the statement at the beginning of the government's response that:
It is clear that online copyright infringement inflicts considerable damage on the UK’s creative economy including music, TV and film, games, sports and software. Industry estimates place this harm at £400m pa.
For a government source to be quoting an "industry estimate" for an important economic statement like this shows a dangerous lack of awareness of the possibility of bias or self-interest in such estimates. (Against what baseline of assumed profits are these losses calculated?) Nor is it entirely clear that damage to a particular portion of "creative industry", even if we were to take them at their word that this takes place, equates to an equivalent damage to the UK economy. I'd hope for more engaged economic analysis from a government source, personally.

Sunday 31 October 2010

My first four-way

(No, this blog is not about to turn into a sordid and prurient confessional.)

There was a conversation this morning on Twitter that involved users @jasonsanford, @SFDiplomat and @lavietidhar and myself. Beyond the interesting content (which I'll summarise in a minute), what struck me was that as more people became involved and were CC'ed in the comments, there was almost no room left in the 140 character tweets for any argumentation. This also highlighted for me how, although you *can* get sophisticated ideas across in this short form, it is also highly prone to misunderstandings and violent agreements.

This conversation began with the concern that many small short fiction venues have very few readers (except for hopeful authors, who to be fair should not be dismissed from the legitimate audience), leading to a perception that short fiction publication means very little to a writer's career/reputation. I wondered if the solution (in the fantasy world in which any of us could execute such strategies) would be to make publications more selective--and therefore smaller--or to reach out further to a new readership. A third option was offered: to stop considering short fiction as marking a "published author", but rather something that any hopeful can do. This led to a side argument, based I think upon some misunderstanding of the tone of that suggestion, about the value of short fiction, and this is about as far as the conversation got so far.

I think this is a valuable discussion (although not, of course, a new one), and I hope we'll get the chance to take it forward sometime. The question is not that short fiction is worthless, of course (at least, we'll not waste our time on anyone who argues that), nor that we should be policing who is a serious author or not. I'm not too concerned that people with lots of publications in tiny venues have resumés that look more impressive than they are (I think we can all tell the difference, even in the rare occasions when we need to look at such indicators). But if there really is a problem with the genre short fiction market being "saturated", then the solution is either to increase capacity (potential readers) or reduce flow (publish less stories). The first is more desirable, but obviously hard. The latter would involve more selectiveness (no bad thing), but is actually impossible, since the Internet allows anyone to publish anything and everything.

Selectiveness would have to take place at the point when we look at the resumé and decide what we think it means. We could apply rules such as the SFWA do: that only certain venues qualify as "professional" (although I'd prefer to see a rule involving how selective a venue is rather than how much they pay--or is the size of readership a better metric). Coming from an academic background, I instinctively cringe from all such metrics, knowing as academics do how meaningless they are. A self-published essay or blog post can be just as important and influential as a peer-reviewed and print-published chapter, and no metrics can take account of that. So we're back to where we started--we judge an "author" by what they write, not where they've been published. I mean, do we need to judge or label "published authors" at all, anyway?

Thursday 28 October 2010

Sein und Werden reopens to submissions with Pharmacopoea

Rachel Kendall writes:

Sein und Werden
volume 7 issue 1

submissions deadline: 20th December 2010

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Sein und Werden is rattling her chains, knocking on her coffin lid and screaming YOUR name. She wants out. She'll take a Pheonix-rising or a zombie-calling. Whether dead or alive, Sein is about to be re-generated, re-animated and re-frigerated for your visual pleasure. The deadline for submissions is 20th December 2010 with a plan to re-launch in January 2011.

Sein und Werden has been through a slew of changes, has tried on various different hats, and has enjoyed a number of dance partners since its inception in 2004. The only difference now is that from this forthcoming issue the zine will be numbered by its correct volume, beginning with vol 7 in 2011, as the 7th year Sein has been running (not counting  the 2010 haitus) and this first issue (January to March) will be called, yes you've guessed it, issue 1. There will still be 4 issues a year , published in January, April, July and October both online and in print.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Hadley Rille books

Message forwarded for Brandon H Bell (feel free to recirculate):
Open Letter to my favorite bookseller/library (and a heads up to fellow readers!)

Hadley Rille Books is about to celebrate it's 5th year as a small press publisher. With anthologies edited by Gregory Benford and Jay Lake, this publisher is on the vanguard of genre fiction's "Indie scene".

And like Indie music, some of the best novels and story collections come from small publishers like Hadley Rille, who labor, certainly in hopes of financial success, but foremost out of love for and aspirations toward producing great genre fiction.

Here's a chance for you to give this small publisher a chance to shine.

November 29th marks Hadley Rille's 5th anniversary and on that day they are releasing The Aether Age: Helios anthology.

This is an exciting and innovative shared world/ Creative Commons licensed project that imagines an industrialized ancient world, circa 600-100BCE (with more surprises). It includes a detailed time-line, era quotes, and a book club guide to accompany the stories. Each story has an illustrated title page, including some by the cover artist M.S. Corley.

Please consider ordering the anthology in either trade paperback or hardcover versions. Available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Follett (as well as direct from the publisher), fully refundable and with standard discounts. Set up an order directly with the publisher at Pre-orders available now.


One of YOUR fans...

ISBN # ----------------------------------------
978-0-9827256-7-2 Trade Paperback
978-0-9827256-8-9 Hardcover

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Call for Submissions: The Monster Book for Girls

Terry Grimwood is circulating the following announcement:
Dear All

While helping a friend clear out her parents' effects, recently, I stumbled on a tatty old pre-war tome called "The Monster Book for Girls". It was adorned with pictures of jolly school lasses wielding hockey sticks and was full of “thrilling adventure stories for girls”. I loved the title so much I’ve stolen it for a new Exaggerated Press anthology.

First it is not a book for teenagers or children.

What I’m looking for are stories inspired by the title, whatever (within the realms of decency, the title does, I’m afraid lend itself to a bit of nudge-nudge, wink-wink- sordidness) springs to mind and kick-starts the creative engine.

It doesn’t even have to be of the horror/fantastical genre. What is a monster anyway? Slipstream, thriller, romance, a mixture of genres would be interesting, whatever floats your (and my, of course) boat

Be warned; I don’t want (or like) teenage vampires, vampire angst or zombies or any other over-their-sell-by-date beasts. High-ish fantasy might be okay as long as it is original and features no grumpy dwarves or ethereal elves. Please don’t hurt children or gratuitously torture women (or men come to that).

Length: 5000 words max, but I will negotiate if absolutely necessary. Pays: Royalties only. Once publisher's initial expenses are covered, 100% of takings will be divided between the contributors. Submission deadline: 27th February 2011.

Submit as an RTF attachment to

Terry Grimwood

Thursday 1 July 2010

New Issue: 2010.21

And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “Hey–don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride...” And we... kill those people.
-- Bill Hicks
 [ Issue 2010.21; Cover art © 2010 Eric Asaris ] Issue 2010.21
Download printable issue : PDF : ZIP

Monday 10 May 2010

New Issue: 2010.20

I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolt.
-- Mark Twain
 [ Issue 2010.20; Cover art © 2010
Rebecca Whitaker ]
Issue 2010.20
Download printable issue : PDF : ZIP

Sunday 7 February 2010

New Issue: TFF 2010.19

Надо изображать жизнь не такою, как она есть, и не такою, как должна быть, а такою, как она представляется в мечтах.
(Life should be shown not as it really is, nor as it ought to be, but rather as it would be in our dreams)
—Anton Chekhov, The Seagull
[ Issue 2010.19; Cover art © 2010 Robin
Kaplan ]Issue 2010.19
Download printable issue : PDF : ZIP