Saturday, January 15, 2011

When Words Collide - A Calgary Reader Con

Looks like a new reader/writer oriented SF convention is being organized in Calgary. Might be worth checking out: When Words Collide".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TWUC Workshops

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is offering the Professional Development Symposium “Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape” in Toronto, St. John’s , Montreal , Ottawa , Regina , Calgary , Vancouver and Victoria, in February and March of 2011. The symposiums take place from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Even if you have attended a Writers’ Union of Canada workshop in the past, you won’t want to miss this exciting new day-long exploration of the changing literary landscape.

Authors Betsy Warland and Ross Laird will illuminate the new landscape of digital literature and publishing and discuss its impact on traditional modes of creation. Kelly Duffin, the Union ’s executive director, will discuss authors’ contracts in the digital age.

This full-day event is designed to address the creative and financial questions that arise as writers navigate print-based and digital literary landscapes. The symposium also explores the importance of community and the need for writers to develop their own writing community.

Most workshops of this calibre charge hundreds of dollars. The price of this symposium is $75.00 and covers costs, including lunch. For registration information on the city and date closest to you please go to Please circulate this information to writers you think might be interested in coming to this event. Space is limited so register today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Foundation Announces 2011 Older Writer's Grant

The Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) is pleased to announce
that it is accepting applications for the 2011 Older Writers Grant.
The grant of $750 is available to any writer of speculative literature
of 50 years or older at the time of application who is just beginning
to work professionally in the field. There are no restrictions on the
use of the grant money.

The grant will be awarded by a committee of SLF staff members on the
basis of interest and merit. Applicants are asked to submit a brief
autobiographical statement, a writing sample, and a bibliography. For
full details on how to apply for the grant, please see the SLF web
or email Applications must be
received by March 31st 2011. The successful applicant will be
announced on June 1st 2011.

The Speculative Literature Foundation is a volunteer-run, non-profit
organization dedicated to promoting the interests of readers, writers,
editors and publishers in the speculative literature community.

"Speculative literature" is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span
the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging
from hard and soft science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to
folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern
mythmaking -- any literature containing a fabulist or speculative

Chiaroscuro Reading Series

Toronto area residents (or anyone traveling to Toronto) may be interested in the new Chiaroscuro Reading series, featuring SF authors. Here is what organizer Sandra Kasturi has to say:

Helen Marshall and I are running this new reading series in Toronto, which features only speculative literature writers (both poetry and prose). We run every second Tuesday of the month.

We just wanted to put the word out to those of you who are not in Toronto--if you're coming to the city for any other reason--a convention, a trip, a book tour, etc., please keep us in mind--we'd love to have you come and read at our series. We've gotten pretty good turnouts at our events, and people are really on board for a regular SF/F/H series!

So if you're a spec lit writer (or you know one who'd be interested) and you're going to be in T.O., drop me a line, and we'll see what we can work out. As I said, we're usually the second Tuesday of the month, but we can sometimes move the date to accommodate you (i.e. Cory Doctorow will be reading on Sunday, March 6th).

(We also arrange a "meet the author" get-together for interested students, who sign up in advance, and get to hang out with the writers before the readings.)

And if you're in Toronto & environs tonight, we're on at 8pm at the Augusta House, 152 Augusta Avenue (off Dundas Street West, between Bathurst & Spadina), 2nd floor, with "Mid-Winter Tales" featuring Karin Lowachee, Caitlin Sweet and Peter Watts! It promises to be a good night.

See you there, or hopefully see some of you out-of-towners at our reading series in the near future!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Branding in E-publishing

Author Mike Stewart recently brought A Newbie's Guide to Publishing to my attention, and it is a pretty interesting column, both for Joe Konrath's postings, and for the numerous responses he receives.

But while I was reading all of the discussion at this useful site about recent changes in publishing and the emergence of e-readers as the publishing medium of the future, it occurred to be that we are in the early days of marketing, and that we can expect to see some new trends in branding.

Right now, people are paying $2.95 for an e-novel by their favorite authors, and downloading dozens of that author's books to the e-reader thinking that they'll get around to reading them sooner or later. As I look around my to-be-read shelf with it's a pile of 200 or so books, it's pretty obvious to me I should stop buying more books until I actually read some of those on my 'next' shelf. And if it weren't obvious to me, it's pretty obvious to my wife who tells me 'stop buying more books until you clean out some of this mess!' But with an e-reader, the temptation to just keep downloading is almost overwhelming — no pile of physical books to impose restraint or trigger it in a spouse. Instead, just gigs of empty space yearning to be filled with more books. Nature abhors a vacuum, and damn if every book lover doesn't want to have more books on their hard drive than anyone else.

Sooner or later, ebooks are going to start channels like Youtube or etc. Somebody is going to come along to help feed that feeding frenzie. So they are going to say, "hey, let's put all the Star Trek books ever written into a packet for $300 bucks, call it the ST library. And people will download that monster just because they can, or because they know their friend Jason is a huge ST fan and it is therefore an obvious xmas/birthday gift, even if Jason has already read 3/4 of the bundle and wouldn't actually by that for himself. And then next will be the Star Wars Bundle and the Honour Harrington bundle – then the stupid military SF bundle, and the rightwing SF bundle and eventually Allan Weiss or I will get around to editing the Canadian SF bundle — every Canadian SF book/collection ever published. And people will buy it, even if they have no intention of reading more than 1/4 of the titles, just 'cuz.

It's the same principle as cable channels. There are tons of cable channels that make my brain hurt because who watches this stuff? But sometimes the answer is nobody watches that channel. I certainly didn't order that channel, it just came with the bundle. Because when ever you give consumers options, there is always that percentage that say, "I want 'em all". So a bunch of completely hopeless channels survive because a lot of people are paying $1.50 a month for that channel because either they couldn't be bothered to filter it out of their order, or because the evil cable company included it in a bundle with 20 other channels the consumer wanted.

I see the same trend evolving for book bundles.

So while today everybody is scrambling to self publish, I think we should be keeping half an eye out for when someone — Sony or Amazon or whom ever — starts bundling books. Because, you want to be in on that bundle action! I'll take my 25 cents for every bundle sold.... And, you know, always a chance someone working their way through the bundle will stumble on my book and like it enough to hunt down other stuff I've writen, building me a reader base! Of course, Runte is pretty far down the list alphabetically, so I'm thinking of adopting the nom de plum Aaron Aabbi to give me a fighting chance of being among the first books read in the bundle, before readers realize they are never going to read it all, and that a lot of it reads like cable TV.

Robert — I mean Aaron.

(The problem is, when I write columns like this, even I'm not sure whether I'm being satrical or not...)