Friday, June 27, 2014

Things Nobody Tells New Writers #1


This is going to sound like a puff piece at first, but bear with me.

Rogues, the anthology with the self-explanatory theme, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, went on sale June 17th and has already hit the New York Times bestseller list.  The reviews are glowing.  Kirkus loves it, noting that it's "without a dud in the book."  Niall Alexander at called it "awesome."  And so on.  Everybody loves this book.

I have a story in it.

I haven't seen it yet.

This is normal.

Here's something that new writers are never told, but you really should know:  Before a book is published, advance copies go out to reviewers, to help get the word out.  Then, when it ships, copies go out to all the bookstores.  Contributor's copies to the writers go out last.  If the gods of publishing are in a benevolent mood, the lag time is only a matter of days.  If not, it can take weeks.  The same thing goes for magazines:  They ship to subscribers first, then outlets, and writers dead last.

When this happens to you, it's important that you know that you haven't been singled out for cruel and unusual punishment.  This happens to all writers, including your heroes. The publisher is simply in the business of making money and putting all best efforts in that direction.  Ultimately, this will work to your benefit.  

So when your first story hits the stands, don't feel too proud to buy a copy to wave in the air while you brag to your friends.  You're going to need it, and more, after all.  Because no matter how many free copies you get (usually three for a magazine or anthology, ten for a novel but the numbers can on occasion be tweaked), you've got enough friends and relations expecting you to give them one that you're going to have to dig into your own pockets to cover them all.

And speaking of Tom Purdom . . .

In honor of Tom being named Philadelphia's newest Geek of the Week (see Wednesday's blogpost), Fantastic Books is releasing his collection Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons, as an e-book.

Here's the press release I just received:

Author Tom Purdom has just been named’s Geek of the Week, and in honor of this distinction, Fantastic Books is releasing the ebook version of his collection Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons, which we published in trade paperback in February. The newly released ebook is (or will soon be) available in a wide variety of formats from all major ebook retailers, including, Amazon, Smashwords, Apple’s iBook store, and many more.

The 130,000-word volume—which Kirkus Reviews named a Best Bet for Speculative Fiction Books in February—is Purdom’s first collection, capping (though by no means completing) a writing career that’s been running more than half a century.

The stories in Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons cover century-spanning life spans, biohacking, personality modification technology, and more. Purdom likes to quote Frederik Pohl’s prescription for a good science fiction story: “interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting future.” He began his writing career over 50 years ago, selling stories and novels to legendary editors like Pohl, John W. Campbell, H.L. Gold, and Donald Wollheim. And for the last twenty years, he’s been roving space and time with an acclaimed string of stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, which included his first Hugo Award nominee.

In announcing Purdom’s selection as Geek of the Week, Chris Urie writes that the book “is a stunning array of stories that surprised me at their breadth of concepts and topics. They could explore interpersonal and philosophical ideas of a community living on an interstellar asteroid or debate the reasons of war. All of these ideas come wrapped up in a cocoon of thoughtful sci-fi concepts and stellar writing. At their core, they’re idea driven stories that not only entertain but expand your thinking into new territories, which is what the best science fiction always does.”

In his introduction to the book, Michael Swanwick wrote “It is a cascade of brilliant ideas worthy of Greg Egan or Stephen Baxter at their best. On my first reading, I could all but hear the plates of my skull creaking as my brain swelled with the effort of following his characters’ thinking. Yet the writing is smooth and the narrative flows naturally from beginning to end. It is a genuine tour de force and a terrific introduction to the pleasures of Purdom’s fiction.”

Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons by Tom Purdom (introduction by Michael Swanwick)
Print: $15.99, 356 pages, trade paperback, 978-1-61720-943-7.
Ebook: $7.99, 130,000 words.



Paula Murray said...

I NEVER got a copy of MZB Fantasy Magazine #1, I had to buy one. OTOH, it was not a big deal, I'm kind of like, 'I got paid, whatever.' after it's gone.

Cambias said...

There's at least one published anthology with a story of mine in it which I've never even seen a copy of. I got paid, but never got a copy and never saw one in the stores. I hope it wasn't a stupid cover.

Michael Swanwick said...

There's irony up and down here in that, second to getting paid there's nothing writers want more than a copy of the publication. Which expense is negligible to the publisher, but also way down on the list of things to do. Future publishers! Want to keep your writers happy while you exploit them? Be prompt and generous with contributor's copies.