Self-publishing is no longer a dirty word

According to this article in The New York Times:

Louise Burke, publisher of Pocket Books, said publishers now trawl for new material by looking at reader comments about self-published books sold online. Self-publishing, she said, is “no longer a dirty word.”

The movement of indie publishing, following music and film, is starting to shed a lot of the stigma that has been attached for so long. Of course, it’s still an uphill struggle, and will continue to be.

“For every thousand titles that get self-published, maybe there’s two that should have been published,” said Cathy Langer, lead buyer for the Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver, who said she had been inundated by requests from self-published authors to sell their books. “People think that just because they’ve written something, there’s a market for it. It’s not true.”

And she’s dead right. But, the fact that the public and the big publishers are starting to recognise that there is some quality out there in the indie publishing world is very heartening news. It’s up to us to make sure that those standards are consistently improved upon and that indie authorship continues to stride ahead.

(Hat tip to April Hamilton for spotting the article – read the whole thing, as it’s quite interesting.)


I’m all a Twitter

twitter_logo I’m a strange creature, I’ll be the first to admit it. For example, I love the internet and technology – I use it to publish books, after all. And yet I can be strangely resistant to new things. Now I know that Twitter isn’t really new, but I’ve avoided it as if it were a previously unrecorded viral strain of ambulating cheese. I don’t know why. I think it’s partly through a self-preservation instinct where my subconscious tries to stop me spending even more time at the computer and partly through a sense of incompetence.

The incompetence thing is by far the over-riding issue. I don’t understand it, therefore I fear it. But I’ve given in. (I think the name itself has a lot to do with my aversion to it. It reminds me of being 5 years old and my dad saying, “Will you stop twittering on and eat your tea!” But that’s my own childhood trauma and best left largely buried in that box in the corner of my mind. You know, the box that, when opened, might lead to horrors unimaginable.)

However, people I greatly admire and respect seem to be regular Twitterers – is that the correct term for one who Twitters? People like Neil Gaiman, John Cleese, even Barack Obama, poster child and saviour of the world (at the moment). So I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about.

Then I read this very interesting article on the subject by fellow indie publisher Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn blog. You should have a read of that post as it gives a nice little rundown on the basics of what Twitter is and what it does. It was enough to get me started and so far I’m enjoying the experience.

So, now I Twitter. If you Twitter too, follow me – Do you Twitter? Leave a comment if you do.


Book Review – The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

I’ve just finished reading this book. I picked it up at the book shop in one of those purely impulsive buys and I’m glad that I did. It’s a big tome and it covers some very interesting ground and certainly doesn’t pull its punches. This is fantasy for grown ups and I really enjoyed that about it.


The story is fairly simple in essence, but it’s engaging and it’s very well managed by the author. I found some of the coincidences that come out later in the book a bit hard to swallow at times, but certainly nothing unforgiveable. There was sometimes a sense of the author trying too hard to surprise the reader. I won’t say any more on that to avoid spoilers.

I also had some problems with the writing now and then. It’s not a particularly literary book – it’s written very openly and simply. On the whole it’s written very well, but I found some hiccups in the writing that could have been better editted. Things like, “He picked up the jug of water and poured a glass of water.” Word repetition like that can be distracting to the reader.

However, regardless of these small gripes, I greatly enjoyed this book. There’s good stuff about the life and training of an assassin, heaps of action and intrigue and characters that you can really understand and care about. To me, that’s quality storytelling.

I’d readily recommend it to fantasy fans. There are two more in the series and I’ll certainly pick up the next one.


124 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read

I picked this up from S F Signal today. The Guardian newspaper in the UK has been running a series called 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read. 124 of them are science fiction and fantasy selections and that list is shown below.

As it says on S F Signal: “As if I needed a reminder of how horribly under-read I am in the genre, I thought I’d note (in bold) which books out of this huge list I have read.” And they’ve suggested it be a meme, so I thought I’d have a go too. I imagine that I’ll be rather embarrassed by how few of this 124 I’ve read, but here goes:

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)

9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
11. Greg Bear: Darwin’s Radio (1999)
12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
25. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood’s End (1953)
30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)

39. Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)
40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)

51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
90. Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)

112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (1889)
114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)

120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

28 out of 124 for me. Actually, that’s better than I thought it would be. There are a few on there that I haven’t read although I have read other books by the same author. And I think that, given that these are included in the 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read, there’s a few things on there that I would have left off and a number of other books that I would have included. But, as I’ve talked about before on this blog, these lists are always subject to taste and cultural bias. This list would have been very different if it was compiled by The New Your Post or The Sydney Morning Herald for example.

There are a couple of strange inclusions too. Like Fight Club. I’m not really sure I would include that in an SF/F list but there you go.

Consider yourself tagged if you’re interested.