the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘publishing


There was a neat panel at this year’s PenguiCon about author self promotion. I didn’t make it to the panel, but I wanted to, and I bet a lot of what I bring up in this blog post was mentioned there. Or at least I hope it was.


As a blogger, I’m on the receiving end of all that author self promotion. What authors put out there tends to end up in my inbox and in my twitter feed, and allows me to make a snap decision on if I’m going to give them 5 seconds, or a week of my life to read and then write an in depth review of their novel.


I’ve been blogging since mid 2010, and on twitter for about five years. I’ve seen plenty of author promotion – some of it effective, and some of it terrible.   Us blogger types can be harsher than slush readers and professional editors and publishers. At least those folks are obligated to read your first few hundred or few thousand words before deciding to read on.  I’ll be making a decision to interact with you (or not) based on the first few sentences of your first interaction with me.


(tl;dr:  do: be authentic and friendly . Don’t: be pushy)

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for exposureFor Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, by Jason Sizemore

published June 20, 2015

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Apex!)




Almost exactly a year ago, in an interview with Jason Sizemore, I politely asked him how Apex Magazine was  born. He must have realized what I was really asking was “were you absolutely crazy?”, because he answered tersely and politely. We both knew there was a lot more to that story.  For Exposure is the rest of the story.


We all know I don’t read much non-fiction, which is it’s own tragedy. So, a chance to read non-fiction, and learn about the dark underbelly and weird secrets behind the birth of Apex Publications?  Sign me up!


Full Disclosure:  I am a contributor at Apex Magazine, and Jason is a personal friend of mine. What does that mean for you? Not much, except that I’ve met most of people mentioned in For Exposure, yet I still missed half the jokes.


For Exposure starts with Jason’s childhood – his religious upbringing, watching horror movies with his mom, and falling in love with reading science fiction, horror, and fantasy. That little boy grew up, got a job in IT, had the worst 30th birthday ever, and decided there had to be something better than this. He dreamed big, and Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest was born. Shortly after that, Jason attended his first fandom convention with the goal of putting a promotional copy of Apex Digest into the hands of anyone at the con who would stand still long enough to talk to him. Didn’t he realize that con-goers love a)free stuff and b)con virgins? Also? Strange glitter covered ladies found in elevators should always be trusted and mysterious alcoholic drinks shouldn’t ever be trusted.  If you’re a con-goer yourself, you’ll get a chuckle out of these chapters. If you’re not a con-goer your mileage may vary.


For Exposure is full of the ups and downs of Apex, how it phoenixed through awful contracts, doomed distribution models, badly timed illnesses, the joy of socializing with amazing people at conventions, finding the right people for your team, and watching your risky decisions pay off.  Apex Magazine has been nominated for a Best Semi-Prozine Hugo three times, and novels, short stories, poetry and artwork published through Apex have won the Nebula, Aurealis, Rhysling, Stoker, and Chelsea. So you tell me if you think the risks Jason took have paid off.

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2014-11-15 09.03.57Inside Outer Space:  Science Fiction Professionals Look at Their Craft, edited by Sharon Jarvis

published in 1985

where i got it: friend gave it to me















My friends know I’m drawn towards the obscure, and they also know I really like the “behind the scenes” of everything. A friend found the perfect gift for me: an obscure book of essays by spec fic professionals, published in 1985. What value is there in a book of essays from 30 years ago? More than you’d think.  Editor Sharon Jarvis curated a short list that included her friends and a few authors she’d been referred to.  She assigned people to write on a topic such as humor, or war, or fandom, or small presses, told them approximately how many pages she wanted, and left them to it.  The resulting essays from luminaries like C.J. Cherryh, Marion Zimmer Bradley, George Alec Effinger, Parke Godwin, Ron Goulart and others are more like having a casual conversation with someone, or listening in on an unscripted panel discussion, rather than reading a manicured essay. They are completely casual, with the authors being completely comfortable calling out people they disagree with (most notably, Harlan Ellison, who everyone wants to pick on).


I picked this book up completely on a lark, I needed something read while waiting for something else to happen. Something I could put down at any moment, something with short little bursts of information seemed perfect. Well, the first essay was addictive and hilarious, so I kept reading, long after the stuff that I was waiting for had happened.   So why was a book of essays from 1985 so intriguing? Because it felt like a time capsule.  And of course I was intrigued to see what had changed in 30 years, and what really hadn’t. Some conversations we are still having, and some we *should* still be having.

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There was a great piece on NPR on Monday morning about how two industries who love books – publishers and libraries – are having a tough time agreeing on how library patrons should check out e-books.

It’s a quick 7 minute story, and well worth the listen:

E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses.

npr libraries

Publishing Houses are businesses.  If they don’t make a profit selling their product – books – they will not be selling books for very long (as Nightshade Books learned the hard way).  Publishers love libraries, and publishers have always sold lots and lots of books to libraries, often at discounted prices. A patron gets the book, loves the book, buys the book, maybe buys a copy for a friend. Or a patron gets on the waiting list for a book, doesn’t want to wait 8 weeks to read the latest bestseller, so they go out and buy the book. Even if every patron isn’t purchasing the book, it’s still a win-win for everyone.

Enter e-books, and the win-win becomes not so much.

With e-books, libraries face the same DRM you and I face, as in they are not buying the e-book, but merely leasing it. An e-book that you purchase for $10 on Amazon might cost a library up to $85, with restrictions on how long it stays in their catalog, or how many times they can lend it out. (those dollar figures are directly from the NPR story, I trust they have done their own fact checking)

Publishers are rightfully concerned that if their e-book makes it to an interlibrary loan site with no restrictions, what’s to stop a state library system from purchasing one copy of the latest bestseller and lending it to thousands of people, all at the same time?

What’s the answer? E-books and e-book lending is too new, so no one really knows yet.

Luckily, the news story mentions some projects that are moving in the right direction:

Simon and Schuster has a one year pilot project with a few public libraries in New York. The project allows an unlimited number of library patrons to check out the e-book when it’s first released, and offers patrons the opportunity to purchase the e-book through the library portal, giving the library a percentage of every sale.  Simon and Schuster is running a giant library fundraiser, and selling their own digital content at the same time.  Will they make a profit on this, proving that it can succeed across the country? I have no idea. Is Simon and Schuster sewing a ton of goodwill and starting a much needed conversation? YES.

Over in Colorado, the Douglas County library system as found a different option that  bypasses much of the troublesome DRM. They purchase what they can afford through the big publishers, but are now working with over 500 smaller and independent publishers, including Smashwords, to build their digital content library.  They may not have that specific best seller title you were looking for, but they certainly have a veritable “stack” of e-books in the same genre. Might libraries be the next big thing for self published authors?

well, what do you think?

if you’ve gotten e-books out of the library, what’s been your experience?

If you work at a library, what’s been your experience sourcing e-books, and getting them into the virtual hands of your patrons?

GraphicNovelNovember continues with some industry chat. . . .

When I bought the most recent volume of Girl Genius, I gave the clerk my debit card and said “receipt in the bag. I don’t want to know.” I waited till I got out to the car before having a heart attack at the price.

I love Otomo’s Akira, but I didn’t know which was scarier, the motorcycle gangs, or the price tag (although I notice the price has recently plummeted on Amazon).

One of my recent purchases was only fifteen dollars, and I was thrilled at how cheap it seemed compared to everything else I was drooling over.

I look at my shelves of manga and graphic novels and think about how much money I’ve sunken into that collection over the years. Money I could put towards my school loan. Or a down payment on a new car. Or Shoes.

I can get a 200+ page Manga for ten bucks and massmarket paperback for $7, so why are Comics, Graphic Novels and webcomic books so bleeding expensive?? At fifteen to twenty-five bucks a piece, it gets mighty expensive mighty fast to find out what happens at the end.

Why are they so expensive? There’s a handful of reasons. . . .

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Incredible Super Buttery Nuggat?  I would so eat that.

Ikea’s Somewhat Burnt Nutella?  I would so NOT eat that.

International Superficial Blockbuster News?  Don’t we already have this?

Itty Snitty Bitty Numbers?  you’re getting close!

Or, something far less interesting, the International Standard Book Number.

Pick up any modern* book, look for the bar code on the back.  See the numbers above or below?  That’s the ISBN – 10 or 13 digits, and unique to that edition.  It’s a searchable field on Amazon, and is 100% percent required for any book that wants to be sold in any bookstore, online, or catalogued in any library.  You can thank our obsession with organization, computers, and the gazillions of books that are published every year for that.   

* Modern???   Maybe the book you picked up was printed before 1970 (I have a lot of these), or maybe it was printed outside the US/UK/Western Europe (I have a few of these), or it might be a newer,  uber-custom print. In that case, it may not have an ISBN.  Good luck cataloging that baby on Goodreads, Shelfari or Librarything.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.