Indie Publishing: Our Dirty Little Secret

be quietI’ve been attending the annual World Fantasy Convention for several years now, and it’s been interesting to watch the evolution of attitudes about indie publishing there. In 2011, traditionally-published authors were quick to dismiss indies as vanity-published hacks. (I won’t quote chapter and verse; we’ve all heard it before.) In 2012, as I reported back then, the convention organizers put together a panel discussion on indie publishing. That panel was less dismissive of indies – although there were still a couple of “slush pile” comments – and even featured one of the honchos from Kobo Writing Life, which had just launched that summer.

I couldn’t afford the trip to Merrie Olde England for last year’s convention. But this year, the big event was practically in my backyard. So I went with my ears perked up to see what, if anything, had changed over the past two years. Continue reading “Indie Publishing: Our Dirty Little Secret”

My Best-Ever Author Weekend

Lynne Cantwell medium shotI don’t mean to brag, but I had 850 people show up at my first book signing.

Okay, they might have been there to see Gene Wolfe, or Stephen R. Donaldson, or Elizabeth Bear, or Peter Straub, or Patricia McKillip, or…well, you get the idea. But I was there, too!

“There” was the 2010 World Fantasy Convention, in Columbus, Ohio. This annual convention travels to various venues around the world – last year’s was in Brighton, England – and is geared toward speculative fiction in general and fantasy in particular. Membership is capped at 850, and many of the attendees are authors, agents, and editors.

I went with friends, and we all went because Donaldson was going to be there. But one of the questions on the sign-up form was, “Are you an author?” I’d just had my first novel published by a small press, so I checked “yes” and put in the Calderwood Books website since I didn’t have one of my own yet. Not only did they believe me, but they put me on a panel. And they let me sign books with the big guys on Friday night. Continue reading “My Best-Ever Author Weekend”

What a Difference a Year Makes

Nowhere, I submit, is the upheaval in the publishing world more apparent than at writing conventions. At last year’s World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, I attended a panel during which an agent (or maybe she was an editor) made some disparaging remarks about self-publishing, and a few audience members stood up and respectfully explained to her why she was wrong.

Fast-forward to 2012. This year’s World Fantasy Convention, in Toronto last weekend, featured a whole panel discussion about e-publishing.

One end of the dais seemed to be spewing dinosaur breath. The former editor-in-chief of Del Ray (Random House’s speculative fiction imprint), Betsy Mitchell, complained that her business is drying up; she said indie novelists aren’t willing to pay $3,500 for the kind of top-notch professional editing job she can offer. (I wondered whether it had ever occurred to her that the vast majority of indies simply can’t afford her.) Next to her sat Robert Runté, an acquisitions editor for a small Canadian press, who called the indie trend of using beta readers “editing by crowdsourcing.” He also said he used to write reviews of speculative fiction novels for money – but “that job is gone.” Who’s taking up the reviewing slack? Bloggers, said Emily Craven (although apparently she doesn’t review books on her own blog). Continue reading “What a Difference a Year Makes”