Forward to February, 2003...
Comment on this entry in my newsgroup.
Steve Leigh makes some great points today as he tosses the Preliminary Nebula Ballot in the trash. Believe it or not, I agree with the spirit of what he is saying, and yes, with the practicality of it too -- except for one small point that makes a huge difference.
Steve says: "I'm sorry. I would love to win a Nebula or a Hugo, or even make the final ballot for one or the other. Absolutely. But if that ever happens, I want it to be because enough people read something I wrote and thought it was that good. If they don't feel that way, then I don't want them to nominate my work -- because it doesn't deserve the award."
The key words here are: "enough people read something I wrote."
And here is the issue. For a traditionally published book -- short of unforceen acts of God like that disaster of a few years ago of a derailed train carrying romance novels to a distributor (ask your friendly local romance writer for the harrowing details) -- this is pretty much a given that it has equal chances of being shelved, seen, and hence read. For a small press or other non-traditionally produced book, the very act of being read and noticed becomes a fighting struggle uphill. Why do you think I keep harping to people about reading my book? Because dammit, it is an expensive small press hardcover title that not many can afford, and it is not found in most brick and mortar stores unless you special-order it. Given that, what right do I have to I remain putz-headed and passive about such a book reaching its audience, if I believe in this book?
If I want more than three people to read it, I have to engage in the filthy lowdown act of author promotion (never rec trading -- just plain aggressive promotion which is getting tarred and feathered alongside the unethical practices), and fight for it with tooth and claw. It may be relatively easy for someone well-established like Steve to say this when his own excellent books are out there in the physical stores, and yes they do get the chance of being browsed and picked up. I, on the other hand, a Published Small Fry, have to bring readers to my book by grabbing them by the scruff of their necks. I have to peddle it at conventions with flyers and send out review copies, and talk it up online. Without this -- and even with this, sad to say -- my obscure small press book will never have an equal chance to be seen and judged by people who might be its right audience. And yet, these are the people who might make the decision whether or not they like or dislike my book enough to vote for it or not.
If and when a small press book has enough promotional and distribution ground to stand equally alongside with a major publisher's issue, then will I sit back and say, "let the book that is seen and best-liked by the most people win." Then and only then would both the logical conditions of "seen" and "best-liked" have been met to make the statement universally meaningful.
I am not the only one who is in this situation either. There are many other very solid and even exemplary small press and what I'd like to call us all -- alternative press writers -- who have to go the strong promotion route just to be blips on the industry radar.
And here is another thing to ponder, slightly off the subject. Does it ever occur to any of us that the label "a complete unknown" when referring to a writer or a work is actually somewhat ironic and even complimentary? To become a complete unknown you have to have at least bleeped the radar and landed on the map (how's that for a mixed metaphor) as a writer in the first place. After all, a real unknown is someone who has... well, someone who we wouldn't be talking about at all.
Now, go and read some new NAWticisms.
Go look on the Fictionwise.com main page -- DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE has been added as a free download to the Fictionwise 2002 Nebula Preliminary Ballot Area:
or go to the e-book directly here.
It's not the whole book but an extended excerpt, the first five Dreams (chapters). Since they are perfectly standalone, you can read them and get sucked in, but not left hanging! :-)
So c'mon, go download your FREE copy now (before I begin turning into a hardcore spam and offer to refinance your mortgage at an alltime low rate while at the same time I equip you with an unlimited supply of viagra, enhance your bustline whether you like it or not, and present you with a confidential offer to transfer $10,000,000.000 US funds to my Nigerian great aunt MRS. BUATHA RITHPTHDAKAK).
See how many opportunities you are getting to take a look at this book? *grin*
A warm bear-hug of encouragement to NAWer Deb Osorio who is going through a very difficult time right now -- unemployed single mom, with no car and no job prospects in sight.
I suppose it is easy to say that the whole world has gone crazy, the war threat is hanging over all of our heads, the economy is to frightening to discuss, et cetera. But the truth of the matter is, the world is only as bad and as dark as the lives of the people close to you. And "close" can mean to be as distant as the electrons on your computer screen.
To be blunt, the only real way to change the world for the better is to take responsibility for those things and beings who are in our immediate sphere of contact, and hence sphere of influence. If everyone did that, the world would be a perfect place. In the meantime, since most of us, including myself, only try in spurts, make an effort in spurts, and then fall back to our regular lives, the world continues to fall to entropy.
Sorry for the rant. But more and more I am beginning to believe that the only kind of constructive thing any one of us can do is the simple act of taking responsibility beyond the minimum responsibility we think we have to take in our day-to-day existence.
We are our brother's keepers, and our neighbors' keepers, and the keepers of the folks across the ocean who speak another language and pray differently. But does that mean we need to go invade them to show them how responsible and globally-conscious we really are? No, I believe we are keepers in the sense that we take the responsibility to make an effort to reach out and help, not to manipulate but to assist. The difficult question remains, "how."
And now I demostrate the above by shrinking back into my selfish self-absorbed personal sphere after having made the tiny one-time spurt effort of taking reponsibility. Yeah, I am just like that.
Ok, so yesterday was a real wow-boggle-amazing kind of day. First, the lesser boggle -- I stumbled upon an unofficial China Miéville website where I found something highly flattering and even more amusing to me. I don't know to what extent it reflects the views of China himself (probably not much), but it
"China Miéville's Perdido Street Station made it to the Nebula Award preliminary
ballot as reported on this page.
Noteworthy novels featured on the ballot include: Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Other Wind, Maureen F. McHugh's Nekropolis, Vera Nazarian's Dreams of the Compass Rose, Patrick O'Leary's The Impossible Bird and Michael Swanwick's Bones of the Earth. Tough competition!"
I am amazed and flattered to be placed in such company, and I LOL! To think that I am China Miéville's "tough competition?"
And now, the big boggle. We're talking head-spinning boggle. I mean, how would you feel if Janis Ian asked to see a copy of your novel? Yes, the Janis Ian, the singer songwriter! *amazed grin*
Janis (who is in SFWA!), mentioned in e-mail to me last night that she has previously read and enjoyed my short story "Rossia Moya." Wow! And now she wanted to see a PDF copy of my novel DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE! And as far as I know (I may be wrong) she is not an Active member and is not even eligible to vote for the Nebula -- she just wanted to read the book!
You can bet your sweet ass I sent her the PDF in a flash!
Ok, so, the rest of you SFWAns out there reading this, if you haven't yet requested your free electronic PDF copy of my novel DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE from Wildside, please do it now. You now have no excuse to say you had no chance to read it before you cast your Preliminary Nebula vote (which has to be received by February 6th), because here I am giving you this chance, okay dokey?
Please read my book first and then decide not to vote for it if this is how you honestly feel. I can respect that completely.
There is nothing more frustrating that seeing people discuss having read many of the other novels on the Nebula Awards® Preliminary Ballot, and knowing that almost no one has read my book. Sure it's an expensive hardcover, I can understand that being an issue for most people, but now it's free if you ask for an the e-copy. Free, dammit! C'mon, people, give this small press book an equal opportunity to stand up on its own merit against the other works on the ballot!
Ok, end of Nebula mini-rant.
Wildside Press is now officially Wildside Press, LLC.
Earlier this week I got my Wildside Royalties, and they were in the four figures! YEAH!! :-)
Also earlier this week (on the 5th) the Wildside Top Sellers for 2002 were posted in the newsgroup, and DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE came in as the #6 top seller overall, of all the titles for 2002!
And although it wasn't said outright, judging by the other titles ahead of it on the list, it looks like DREAMS is either the #3 or #2 Top Hardcover for 2002!
It is #3 if the Anne McCaffrey book that is at #4 overall has sold more Hardcover copies than Trade PB (probably not, probably the #4 position is a combined figure of both trade PB and HC, so I am guessing it should not be counted in this case), and that would make the Lillian Stuart Carl book the #1 Hardcover, and then my book!
In the other news, there has been a lot of interesting Nebula discussion in the SFWA private areas, and the Ballots have been mailed out. I got my Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot and am considering the other candidates right now, and getting rather nervous about my own novel's chances to make the Finals.
The whole thing is such a fluke anyway, but oh well, whatever happens, happens.
By the way, the first 5 Dreams (chapters) of my novel should be going up on Fictionwise for FREE pretty soon. Stay tuned!
Happy New Year!
How do you like the new design? *grin* Also, if your browser shows up any bugs or ugly weirdnesses that mine does not (Explorer 6.0), please kindly let me know!
All right, now to journal business! :-)
Year 2002 Writing Stats
Here are my 2002 writing stats (most of it according to this online journal which
is really my best record at this point):
FICTION SALES: 3
"Faces At The End Of Time" to anthology BEYOND THE LAST STAR.
"The Young Woman In A House Of Old" to anthology STRANGE PLEASURES #2
"Hell Week at Grant-Williams High," to switch.blade: School's Out
Fictionwise original electronic anthology.
TOTAL NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 60,273+ words
Novel: 11,783+ words
LORDS OF RAINBOW (unknown, but lots, editing mode)
COBWEB BRIDE: 11,783 words
New Short Fiction: 48,490+ words
"Niola's Last Stand" (890 words, *incomplete* 11-5-02)
"Halloween at Grant-Williams High" (14,300 words)
"Port Custodial Blues" (5,200 words)
"The Young Woman In A House Of Old" (10,500 words)
"Hell Week at Grant-Williams High" (15,200 words)
"Faces At The End Of Time" (2,400 words)
Various trunk stories that got fiddled on (words unknown)
Lords of Rainbow Personality Color Quiz
Fictionwise Reprints: 12
"Lady of The Castle" (got to #1 Bestseller in Fantasy)
"Absolute Receptiveness, The Princess, And The Pea"
"Swans" (got to #1 Bestseller in Fantasy)
"Aliens in Wonderland"
"Bonds of Light"
"The Starry King"
"A Time To Crawl"
"The Stone Face, the Giant, and the Paradox"
"Wound On The Moon"
Foreign Reprints: 1
"Wound On The Moon" in Atjaro Magazine, in Hungarian.
Interview in Holly Lisle's VISION #8, by Zette Gifford
Interview in INFINITY PLUS by Nick Gevers
AWARDS / ACHIEVEMENTS: 2
"Swans" got an Honorable Mention from Gardner Dozois in YEAR'S BEST
SF, Volume Nineteen.
DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE made the Nebula Awards Preliminary Ballot.
CONVENTIONS ATTENDED: 5
There's probably more but this is the most significant. And 60K words is definitely an undercount, since I don't know how to count the fiddle and edit words.
Not bad for a somewhat hellish year in other respects!
* * *