Tag Archives: Foz Meadows

Links to Articles About Writing and Publishing (I Told You I Had Links. So Many Links.)

Here are links to articles on writing and publishing that I found interesting. (Writing neepery, in other words. Much more pleasant than Hugo neepery, really.)

 

The Internet is full of words, you see. We raised the young people on them.

Kameron Hurley talks about her writing life in the past and the present. Lot of straight financial stuff there.

Chuck Wendig offers helpful suggestions about dealing with reviews to writers.

However, Foz Meadows, who just got a two book deal, does take Chuck to task on there being no rules for writing fiction. (This one’s for you, Andrew! She writes better than I do, but given it’s her blog it was on, she has more curse words.) This is a regular problem — Chuck is a terrific fiction writer, just did the new tie-in novel for Star Wars — but writers, when asked for advice or proferring it, often fall into the form of ordering it to give it a more authoritative bounce. It does more harm than they realize, so I appreciate Foz addressing this.

Chris Brecheen wrote to a woman writer who wanted, get this, J.K. Rowling to retire because she believed it would give other writers a better chance. Brecheen explained how fiction publishing actually works, and that it’s not a competition, which is actually helpful for a wider pool of authors than you might think.

Daniel Jose´ Older offers advice that is also very helpful to a lot of writers dealing with the endless time crunch of life.

 

Food for thought! Hope all your evenings are warm and safe and welcoming, folks.

 

 

 

 

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Interesting Writings for a Day of Recovery — 10/20/13

I’ve been sick. Like barely moving sick. So now that my brain works a bit better, here are some interesting writings links that piled up (some a tad old in Internet days):

1) Chuck Wendig has a very funny stream of consciousness piece about his experience as an author trying to edit and revise his work. (However, his complaints to publishers piece is silly; don’t bother with that one.)

2) Laura Miller at Salon.com had a good piece about new/old models of book buying online, mainly that Netflix is reviving the idea of book clubs to some extent as well as the subscription model for heavy readers. But what was also useful in the piece is the explanation again about what is actually going on in e-books (they aren’t replacing print,) and how, once again, fiction readers are marketing resistant and use word of mouth:

The leveling off of the e-book market suggests that what once seemed like a boom destined to overwhelm and replace print publishing has in fact become a thriving submarket. (A recent survey of travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport found that even in circumstances where you’d expect e-books to prevail, 71 percent of those polled said they preferred to hit the road toting print books.) All sorts of people read e-books, but a significant portion of that market is made up of what are called “heavy readers.” A Pew Internet study of e-reading showed that the average e-book user reads 24 books per year, compared to the 15 read by people who don’t use e-books.

Even Amazon isn’t very good at suggesting the next book you might want to read — or at least, its customers rarely rely on it for such advice. Most readers (e- or print) still prefer to heed the advice of trusted friends instead. For some things, the human touch remains indispensable.

3) Nick Mamatas does a nice satire of criticisms leveled at “genre” fiction that can just as easily be utilized for “literary” fiction (i.e. contemporary drama, which is not necessarily literary, just as genre is not necessarily not literary.)

4) Foz Meadows is so very tired of writing about systemic prejudicial bias towards women and other repressed groups, but she is so very good at it.

5) Laura Miller again with an article at Salon.com (because I had them piling up,) on the rather crazy and completely pointless fighting going on between readers at Goodreads and authors and author publishing authors.

More as I get back up to speed, one more time.

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October 20, 2013 · 8:30 PM

The Problems We’re Still Fighting in the Industry

Australian writer Foz Meadows is rapidly becoming a favorite columnist of mine. She’s sharp, erudite and a good researcher. Over at Black Gate Magazine’s site, Meadows gives a meditative take on the resistance to diversity in the SFF field that involves all of us, conscious and unconscious, and how the industry responds and contributes to these issues in the article “Challenging the Classics: Questioning the Arbitrary Browsing Mechanism.” And she even references me! Specifically the piece I did in July on publishers needing to prove they really do want women authors to get women authors and why, “Reality and the Welcome Sign: Gender and SFFH,” in response to an announcement from Tor UK’s editor, Julie Crisp, on diversity and SF.

But that’s not really what impressed me about the article, nice as it is. Browsing is one of the three main interactive factors of the fiction market, along with symbiosis and variety. How readers browse is therefore deeply critical to what fiction publishers do, and I hope that a lot of them and booksellers especially will consider Meadows’ piece. If we improve diversity in browsing, and in marketing and publishing fiction, we improve and increase the market, the effectiveness of browsing. I also think it’s great that Black Gate editor John O’Neil has not only taken a long critical look at his own thinking, but continues to promote the discussion of these issues, including publishing Meadows’ piece. (Plus, have you checked out the fiction at Black Gate? — it’s really good.)

The depressing side of the article is that Meadows documents the many obstacles put in the path of that improvement, and often in our own brains. These artificial obstacles hurt SFFH, they hurt YA, and they greatly limit the appeal of fiction books, by a combination of discouraging readers away from books that they are trying to sell, and making it impossible for many readers to find the interesting and diverse books that have managed to get out there.

Books survive on a combination of the appeal of our romantic notions of them as objects and entertainment/insight providers, and getting as many people as possible to ever read any of them, any kind of book, in any format. Self-reinforcing and false feedback loops that discourage reading and limit it, sink the book market.  Essentially, when booksellers insist that stories with non-white protagonists get whitewashed covers, for example, and publishers go along with that idea, they are committing sales suicide, not only for the book in question, but more importantly for the books to come. When the industry and fans promote the idea of women written books being only for women and always of poorer quality, for instance, they are sinking the market, losing huge chunks of growth. Throwing up your hands and wondering where the readers have gone when you’ve been telling them to leave and that there’s nothing for them here is creating a death spiral. While fiction stories will always survive, we could be surviving so much better, if not for absurd scripts in our heads that are put out in the market. (And it is in our heads — booksellers have no stats that the damaging marketing techniques are needed, only fears.)

It is in this area that self-publishing may be beginning to play an interesting and vital role. E-books sales are leveling off as they took up what they are going to of the mass market paperback market, and as tablet enthusiasts and electronics companies lose interest in books in favor of apps and video. And a lot of the folk who dove into the self-publishing pool have gone back out again after not selling many copies. But those who continue to experiment in that market include many authors who have found the going harder to get folk interested in trying their stuff — stories about women, non-whites, non-Western cultures, gay characters that come out in the other sectors of fiction publishing too, but which may be marketed badly. What we know is, when stories and authors who have been marginalized — and declared by many not to exist — see a real opening in the marketplace that they can get to, they’re right there. And the response is often new sales, new readers, and market growth for the whole industry.

So check out Meadows’ piece and some of the excellent articles she links to (no, not mine, the other ones,) especially this one on racism and YA book covers, “It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers” by YA librarian Annie Schutte.

 

 

 

 

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Interesting Writings — 6/12/13

Quick Linkage time*:

Chuck Wendig entertainingly talks about Kindle/Warner’s team-up to sell licensed tie-in fiction to some of their book/t.v. show franchises as a form of “fan fiction.”

Foz Meadows talks about realism and outliers in SFFH.

One more sexism in SFFH entry by Emily Finke, because I thought this very cogently talked about the larger problem beyond the big controversies.

Tobias Bucknell explains publishing math to people who don’t really know anything about it.

Video interview and quoted excerpts from an interview with recently deceased writer Iain M. Banks. The award winning author was an excellent ambassador for doing away with the imaginary wars and an all round great guy. It is a loss, but check out the legacy of his novels, including his last one coming out this week.

*For reasons known only to WordPress, only one link here got the traditional blue coloring, but they all seem to be working, so click on the underlined words. Thanks!

 

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