Thoughts: Relationships in SFF Publishing

image credit unknownSO – it turns out I completely suck at holding contests and then actually clicking the little button on Rafflecopter to draw a winner. Thanks for your patience! The winner is Meg Winikates!! Thanks for participating!

The main thing I wanted to talk about today is the ongoing conversation I’m seeing across Twitter, blogs, and podcasts about the relationship that reviewers have with various members of the publishing world – readers, authors, and other reviewers.

A recap:
SF Signal Mind Meld: The Evolution of the Author Fan Relationship
Rob Bedford and Justin Landon talk about it extensively on RocketTalk
Paul Weimer talks about why he can’t review every book on his personal blog

It was Paul’s blog post and a previous Mind Meld that ultimately inspired me to join this conversation. As a publicist, I typically stay out of the conversations that are going on in the SFF community unless I’m actively promoting my author or reaching out to reviewers and other media professionals, but this time I wanted to take a moment to portray my point of view on this as a publicist.

For those of you who aren’t all that familiar, the publicity department at a book publishing house attempts to get as much coverage of a book and/or author as possible. That means we’re writing press releases, reaching out to reviewers across all media platforms, establishing relationships with reviewers, coordinating travel and events, and just trying to do whatever we can to let people know that the book exists. This is different from marketing in that we are not purchasing any sort of advertising, we do not make promotional items (though we use them occasionally), and we don’t sponsor anything through publicity. We have a marketing department to handle all of that.

The most important part of our job is the relationship between publicist and reviewer. This is a process that takes place very much behind the scenes, and our efforts are meant to be invisible to the general public. I think that SFF publicity is vastly different from other kinds of book publicity because the community is more tight-knit, and there’s a lot of opportunity to interact with reviewers through social media. When I’m working on mystery/fiction titles, I don’t have nearly as much access to people reviewing my books as I do with the SFF peeps (I’m hoping to change that!). I also think that the genre community is vastly more enthusiastic about new titles as well. This is the thing I love the most about my job.

I love getting to know the reviewers and the authors. I love seeing all of the interaction on Twitter and through blogs. I also deeply appreciate that most of the reviewers I interact with are reviewing out of love for the genre and not for money. Most of them have full time jobs and full time families, but they always make the time to regularly interact with each other and with the readership to promote the books they love. I hope they never doubt their value to the community, and I’m excited to see more awards being given to these wonderful, dedicated people who make this community as unique and interesting as it is. Rob Bedford said that without publicists, you wouldn’t have much to talk about. I think that without reviewers, not very many people would learn about our books. It goes hand in hand, and I’m just really happy that I get to be a part of a vibrant community of like-minded people. I grew up always wanting to do something that helped people, and I can’t imagine doing anything other than getting to tell everyone about amazing books and encouraging more people to read. So, reviewers, thanks for all you do, and thanks for making my job such a great experience!

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New Tor/Forge Titles in November!

Just in time for the holidays, we have some great books coming out in November! What are you looking forward to reading as you plan for your vacations?

Tor

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Lowball edited by George R. R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass

Harry Harrison! Harry Harrison! by Harry Harrison

Willful Child by Steven Erikson

Fear City by F. Paul Wilson

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu and Ken Liu

The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert by Frank Herbert

Heritage of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Forge

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A Song to Die For by Mike Blakely

The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

All Hallows Read for October! [Giveaway]

10411879_10152339225912343_7309159229074767804_nI think I love October the most. The leaves are starting to change and there’s a whole month of anticipation for Halloween, my favorite holiday! And best of all, it’s time for All Hallow’s Read! For more information about this illustrious tradition, you can read all about it on their website here.

Since I know so many fabulous people both through Twitter and here in New York, I’ve decided to do a contest on my blog and give away two great books: The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All by Laird Barron courtesy of Night Shade Books and Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling courtesy of Tor Books.

To enter, simply tell me your creepiest ghostly encounter in the comments below. A winner will be randomly selected from entrants via Rafflecopter on October 31st. You must be a resident of US or Canada to participate.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Tor at New York Comic Con!

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New York Comic Con is almost here! Of course, this is a huge event for Tor since it’s one of the biggest cons, and it’s happening in our home town. This year, we have this fancy portal dedicated to all things NYCC 2014. You can check it out here!

If you’re going to be in town and want to stop by our booth at #2223 and say hello, here’s my personal schedule (subject to change!):

Friday, October 10 – 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, October 11 – 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Sunday, October 12 – 10:00am to 1:30pm

If you want to meet up for a coffee or swing by the booth, hit me up on Twitter!

October Titles from Tor and Forge

Wow, the year is going by so quickly! I can’t believe it’s already time to put up the October titles! Also, coming up in some future posts – my NYCC schedule and some tour info for some of my authors. Stay tuned for that! In the meantime, let me know what October books you’re looking forward to!

Tor

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October 7 – Hawk by Steven Brust

October 7 – The Shotgun Arcana by R. S. Belcher

October 7 – Silverblind by Tina Connolly

October 14 – The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

October 21 – Heart of Stone by Debra Mullins

Forge

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October 7 – Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan

October 14 – The Last Shootist by Miles Swarthout

October 21 – An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War by Patrick Taylor

October 28 – The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron

September 2014 Releases from Tor and Forge

Hi friends! Sorry this post is a bit belated! September has been a busy month so far for Team Tor/Forge now that we have some authors touring, and we’re gearing up for New York Comic Con. Check out the titles below and let me know what you’re excited about! Got requests? You know what to do.

Tor

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September 9 – Exo by Steven Gould

September 9 – The Bloodline Feud: A Merchant Princes Omnibus by Charles Stross

September 16 – Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett

September 16 – Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake

September 23 – The Seventh Sigil by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes (check out the awesome book trailer!)

 

Forge

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September 9 – Sabotage by Matt Cook

September 30 – Strong Darkness by Jon Land

Book Review: The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

TheBulletCatchersDaughter-144dpiBefore I begin the actual review of this book, I think I should begin with a short, unofficial history lesson on the origins of the term “steampunk.” I am brand spanking new as a reader of this genre, so this is what I’ve recently learned from conversations with others more well-versed in it than I am.From what I gather, the definition of “steampunk” within the publishing genre is still somewhat in flux, but here’s what Wikipedia (don’t flog me, my academic friends!) has to say about it:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistictechnologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville.

Wikipedia also goes on to mention that Tor author K.W. Jeter coined the term in the late 1980s as a variant on the term “cyberpunk,” which is defined by Wikipedia thusly:

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a near-future setting. Noted for its focus on “high tech and low life,” it features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.

I think the most quintessential example of cyberpunk is the movie Blade Runner. So, my interest in the definition of “steampunk” came about as a result of a conversation I had with my friend Michael Underwood, author of the recently published novel, Shield and Crocus, wherein he suggests that “steampunk” must stay true to its roots and incorporate the “punk” aspect of cyberpunk. Mike says,

“To be ‘punk,’ there has to be an awareness of class, some degree of anti-authoritarianism, or anti-establishment sentiment, either in the heroes, or a critique of the system in the work itself. Most Steampunk is Victorian, and ‘punk,’ can delve into the industrial revolution, wage slavery, child labor, colonialism, etc. That’s where the punk comes from – the rejection of the tidy narrative about Victoriana that erases people at the margins and the thousands+ that slaved and died to create the majesty of the age.”

So, long story short, if we are including Mike’s definition of “punk” here (and we are because it just makes sense!), then I believe that Rod Duncan’s novel, The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter (Angry Robot Books, August 2014), is a very good example of that definition. While the focus on steam technology is pretty light, the punk is definitely well-represented in the protagonist’s struggles with sexism and as well as in the extreme differences in freedom and expected adherence to the law that each social class experiences. These are just a few of the issues that plagued the protagonist as she tried to make a living and solve a mystery.

In this novel, Elizabeth Barnabus is a woman on her own in a world that resembles Victorian England, which is a part of The Gas-Lit Empire. As you can imagine, it’s practically impossible for Elizabeth to conduct any business, own any property, or hold a well-paying job as a single woman, so she solves this problem by masquerading as her own twin brother, a trick she learned from her father as a part of her act in a traveling circus. As a man, Elizabeth works at night as a private investigator of sorts. She’s hired to find the missing brother of an aristocratic woman, along the way, Elizabeth encounters some interesting steampunk technology as well as a legendary traveling circus run by a mysterious and possibly nefarious old man. The story moves along at a quick pace, and I found that I couldn’t put the book down for very long. This is my official introduction to the steampunk genre, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to get my hands on more fiction like this, and I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel!