SF/Fantasy on Cover at Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly features SF and fantasy in its April 12 issue.

JoSelle Vanderhooft’s cover story begins with the familiar black crepe overhanging the publishing business — “Last year was sluggish for book sales and gloomy for publishing personnel, with layoffs, hiring freezes, and cutbacks at an all-time high” — then surprises with examples of sf/fantasy publishers that seem to be immune. Of course, their books are tie-ins to the Star Trek and World of Warcraft franchises, so the cheering may be a little subdued.

All reports on the state of book publishing need comic relief, supplied here by Naomi Novik in her contribution “Why I Write…”  

My grandmother, among other varied professions undertaken during an eventful life, once sold vowels in the market on Tuesdays in Warsaw. Under the difficult climate of the region, situated as it was between Latin and Cyrillic, they were more difficult to raise than consonants and consequently more rare.

There’s also a sidebar on Tor’s 30th anniversary with insights from publisher Tom Doherty and several of the editors:

“We try not to get too far afield of stuff somebody around here sincerely likes and understands,” adds Patrick Nielsen Hayden, senior editor and manager of science fiction. “But we’re a broad church. One of Tom’s strengths has been his willingness to work with an array of editors who represent very diverse tastes, even within particular genres.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link]

Snapshots 16

Here are ten developments of interest to fans:

(1) The original graphic novel The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen will be published by Dark Horse in 2010. “The action-fantasy, with art by Rebecca Guay, will join other titles that the publisher says have successfully attracted a large young female audience.”

(2) Book-A-Minute offers the ultracondensed Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

(3) The April issue of Apex Magazine will be edited by Michael A. Burstein: “Ever since we published Michael’s collection I Remember the Future, we’ve been hoping that Michael could find the time to edit an issue,” said Jason Sizemore, publisher and editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine.

(4) Follow this link to “Wrath of Khan – The Opera as performed on the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim program Robot Chicken.

(5) Viz Media is launching Haikasoru, a new science fiction imprint that will bring the best in Japanese science fiction and fantasy to English-speaking audiences.

(6) For this SF Scope story about the return of Warren Lapine, Andrew Porter says he would have preferred the headline “Sauron Not Dead After All.”

(7) Sam J. Miller’s blog has lots of insightful analysis about sf on television, including Lost and Battlestar Galactica:

Watching Lost last night, after the initial euphoria died down, I realize – I don’t trust these people. I love the show a ton, I really do, but there’s something about Lost that makes me feel like the producers are used car salesmen trying to rush me through a shiny showroom so I won’t notice how flimsy and cheap all the merchandise is.

(8) There are big cuts at Publishers Weekly. Among those on the chopping block are Sara Nelson, editor-in chief since 2005, and Daisy Maryles, executive editor, who had been with the magazine for more than four decades. Andrew Porter says, “Daisy Maryles always helped me a lot when I was doing my SF/Fantasy at the ABA guides.”

(9) BookViewCafe.com has been invited to participate in New York Review of Science Fiction’s monthly reading series. On Tuesday, February 3, BVC members will be reading at the NYRSF’s new meeting place, 12 Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport in New York City. Scheduled to be on hand include Laura Anne Gilman, Susan Wright, and Sue Lange.

(10) New Zealand’s 2010 Natcon, Au Contraire, will be held in Wellington August 27-29, the weekend before Aussiecon 4, to accommodate fans travelling “down under.” Australian SF Bullsheet recommends visitors to Wellington at that time of year bring sturdy shoes and wet-weather gear.

[For their links included in this post, I thank John Mansfield, David Klaus, Sue Lange and Andrew Porter.]

More Comment on Publishers Weekly Cutting Review Fees

Publishers Weekly’s decision to cut in half what it pays for reviews is still drawing fire. Kevin Allman has written a very good analysis of the controversy, which says in part:

[A] good PW review (particularly a starred one) can affect sales in the same disproportionate way that a New York Times rave theater review can disproportionately affect a show’s box office…. That’s a hell of a lot of clout for a $25 review. And a hell of a lot of responsibility to give to someone who can afford to work for $25.

PW Cuts Reviewer Fee

Critical Mass reports a National Book Critics Circle member received this letter from Publishers Weekly’s reviews editor announcing pay rates are being cut in half:

Dear Reviewer,

We are under constraints to reduce our expenses and must reduce the fee we pay to reviewers. Any reviews assigned after June 15 will be billed at $25 per review. However, you will be credited as a contributor in issues where your reviews appear. Please know that we value the work you do for us. Your astute reading and writing are what make our magazine so valuable in the industry and we regret this necessary action. All of us here are also experiencing change but we expect that we will continue to be the gold standard in book reviewing.

Interestingly, not long ago PW put out a call for more reviewers. Michael Scharf, PW Fiction Reviews Editor, blogged on May 13 that they received over a thousand applications. And this, in response to an online ad that didn’t even mention a pay rate. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to make the connection. PW thinks it will have no problem finding people to write reviews at the reduced rate.

Isn’t that the Internet’s usual deal-with-the-Devil – the lure of a big audience, but good luck making any money on your writing? I predict some of these applicants will be surprised when they don’t have to pay PW to get published. (Oops, forget I mentioned that.)

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the tip.]