Catch 22: announcing a new project

A new blog project!

Readers of speculative fiction like finding new authors and books. They may be looking for something a bit different, or something in a subgenre that’s not widely available. That’s why we read things online.

More and more authors are self-publishing their books. They either do this to keep out-of-contract material in circulation or they publish entirely new fiction. They like to let the world know, but a lot of conventional reviews sites are closed to them and it gets tiring to beat your own drum. They’re in a catch-22.

Readers may want to try out a few of these authors, but they don’t like the risk of buying something that is not up to scratch. Another catch-22.

This blog series will be about meeting the two in the middle.

For each post, I will give the stage to an author to talk about their self-published book. But, in order to be featured here:

– the author must have some publishing credentials or be seriously underway to getting them (published at least one story at pro level, be a member of SFWA, have attended intensive writing courses such as Clarion, or won awards).
– the book must have a cover
– it must be freely available on ebook sites such as Smashwords and the Kindle store
– it must be speculative fiction
– it must not be free

At this stage, I have no idea how many posts there will be, but I envisage posting no more frequently than once a week, and I’ll keep this open for as long as I think this is useful.

Want to write a 500-word post on your book? Reply below.

Because April is Aussie Author Month, I’ll giving first dibs on Aussie authors.


29 comments on “Catch 22: announcing a new project

  1. I like the sound of Catch 22. I’ll look forward to hearing from a range of authors.

    I’m not ready to write anything for your project yet, but I’ll be paying close attention to those who do.

  2. I am not an Aussie writer, but I do fit those qualifications 🙂 This is a cool idea, Patty! I have a few things up on Kindle and Smashwords etc and if you have room for non-Aussies, I’d like to participate.

    Annie B

    • Yeah, you were one of the ones I was thinking about. Definitely. I did, though, agree to do the Aussie Author Month thing 😉

      • I can wait 🙂 I’ll have a new book coming out in April anyway, so doing something about it in like May would be perfect.

        I’m curious, too, to see who else takes you up on this. I think this could be a very cool way of finding more things to read. Not that I lack things to read but finding MORE things to read is always nice.

  3. Ooh! Me! Me! My first short story/poetry collection, “Ghosts Can Bleed”, comes out end of April.
    Credentials – check (see the “About” page on my blog for more details).
    Has cover art – check.
    Availability – check (will be available in e-book and paperback formats).
    Will not be free – check.
    Specfic – check.
    Aussieness – I’m New Zealand born, Australian resident. Does that count?
    The only remaining question is, is it self-published? Well….kinda sorta. I’m the vice-president of the writers’ co-operative Dark Continents Publishing which is publishing the collection. It’s your blog – you make the call.

    • Totally! Great. At some stage, I’d need a link to an image for the cover and an informal-chatty-whatever blurb that tells us what the book is, or what it’s about, or why you wrote it, or whatever.

  4. I live in Central Queensland and I have a horror novella out from Damnation Books in the US!

    Here’s a synopsis:

    Jessica Newman’s tragic childhood has come back to haunt her. Her father, a Catholic deacon she hasn’t seen since he was found not guilty of her mother’s death during an exorcism ritual, has turned up dead in Scotland, with a wound to the head.

    Forced to take her family to Scotland and deal with her father’s estate―a derelict mansion in the Grampian Mountains. Jessica begins to question her mother’s death and what role her father played in it.

    The house and its dark basement―could provide more answers than she bargained for.

    Torment is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble…

    I have a blog too

    • Greg,

      With their purchase of Realms of Fantasy, Damnation Books is presumably attracting a fair bit of publicity and putting that to good use. I intended this series for any author who has no such publisher to fall back on, but may keep this reply in mind because I might do a small publisher thread at some stage as well.

  5. Patty, give us a jingle once Aussie Month has passed. We’d love to promote our three story sf-collection, After Things Went Bad… if a self-pubbed 99-center qualifies for the new blog series.

    • It’s all of April, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider anyone else in April, just give preference to Australians. Some people have let me know that they’ll be sending material, and there will probably be a lag time, so let me know when you’re ready to write something.

  6. So, wait….you want self-published authors, but you’ve ALSO asked for authors with “real credentials”? Is this what you meant by catch-22? Because you’ve made a lovely catch-22 to get rid of any indie authors and keep reading more of the same cookie cutter crap from SFWA.

    I have a sci-fi book I’d love to send to reviewers like yourself, but as it was published with a small press, I’m finding most sci-fi reviewers won’t take it. I had an easier time giving away a self-pubbed fantasy book. Every time I turn around, I see something like this, where reviewers claim to be looking for something new, but then won’t even look at 98% of the new authors because they don’t know the right people.

    You don’t want anything new. You want more of the same, but with different names. If you really wanted something new, you’d get rid of the career credentials requirement. Instead, you’ll use it as an excuse to avoid looking in the indie pile. Bravo. So happy to see your openness to new authors.

      • There were no cuss words, so I fail to see how this qualifies as a diatribe, or even a rant. I’m pointing out that you won’t find anything new, because you aren’t looking for anything new. You’re looking for more of the same from new clones. But to make sure you see this is a proper diatribe: @*f£§! There, real frontier gibberish.

      • I can see the words cookie-cutter crap implied to apply to everything that gains SFWA credentials.

        That is clearly an opinion you are entitled to have.

        What I don’t get is why self-publishing should be limited to those who share that opinion.

  7. Patty, you said:

    “What I don’t get is why self-publishing should be limited to those who share that opinion.”

    You also said in the article:
    “published at least one story at pro level, be a member of SFWA, have attended intensive writing courses such as Clarion”

    This requirement is counter to the career goals of most self-published authors, including those who have published multiple titles with small press publishers but still don’t qualify as professional-level. More than that, writers’ organizations like the SFWA have been adamantly opposed to accepting self-published authors as legitimate.

    So, as I read it, your requirement says you want only writers who were previously published, but have now chosen to abandon their former employers because they aren’t being paid or aren’t making good sales. This by definition means they are not new authors.

    The rest of the self-published authors are also rendered beneath your consideration because they skipped the middle man. You too are entitled to your standards, but as an author with 30 books who cannot send you a single title thanks to your rule, I wanted to point out the fallacy of your request and explain why it unfairly punishes a vast array of spec-fic authors. Which you apparently think is a diatribe. It isn’t. I’m disagreeing with you, but I don’t expect to change your mind.

    I’m saying, what you’re asking for is counter to the career goals of self-published authors. I’m also saying that what you’re asking for is a small pool of writers when there are so many worthy authors who could use a little exposure. If you wanted I could give a top ten list of indies to check out without including a single book from myself. So I’m not just expressing sour grapes about not getting in. I’m telling you, that requirement is setting the bar so high that you’re missing out on all the new writers you claim to be looking for. And that too is just my opinion, which you are free to ignore.

    • A few things:

      While it is true that SFWA currently doesn’t accept writers who have solely self-published, it is untrue that it’s unanimously opposed to it. SFWA is not a homogenous object. It’s the sum of its members. I am one of them, and I can assure you that there is a lot of discussion within SFWA about this. There are a lot of members who have self-published, either before, during, or after having made the sales (usually in short stories) that entitled them to join, especially the newer members.

      Neither SFWA membership nor having sold a book to a publisher means that you have made it and that you are now part of the jet-setting crowd. It is not a guarantee of pay, or even publication. In addition, I know a number of previously published authors who are unable to sell subsequent books after their current publisher backed out due to uncertainties in publishing. I also know many writers who, having made neopro status, are neither well-known nor well-published and who have secured agents who have subsequently failed to sell their work. Some have self-published for that reason. Some others have self-published because it’s fun. Some have self-published novellas, which are very hard to sell to major publishers. The spectrum from pure self-published writer to successful writer with a major publisher is a continuum with every variation in between.

      About this series: there are many courses, clubs, sites, grants, and what-have-you that I don’t qualify for. It could be because I’m the wrong nationality, the wrong gender, too old, too young, too inexperienced, too poor, too rich, too healthy, too thin or whatever. I don’t go writing to those sites trying to change their minds about their requirements either. I slink away to find a place that suits me. Especially in publishing there are plenty. But, if you have successfully published thirty books, why would you even want to be featured on a site like mine? Why should you want to change my mind? There are plenty of sites that would suit you much better.

      It is true that there are authors who don’t fit this series. I do write reviews and have guest posts for books and people who don’t fit this series, but not under this label. This is not a review site.

  8. So you admit you’re an SFWA member, and that the organization’s ruling committee is against recognizing self-published works as legitimate. BUT, for your friends in the organization who share your opinions about self-publishing, (which are counter to their stated goals) you are willing to review their work. And this has no air of favoritism at all.

    Then you use the term “slink away” to describe your online actions. Rather than discuss a potential hot topic like unfair guidelines, you choose to slink away from debates. I don’t think you realize how that puts you in a negative light for your poor choice of words. Or perhaps that was a subtle suggestion that I should slink away and just shut up. Either way, it still isn’t a good choice of words.

    But you’re right in that you can choose to make your standards as high as you like. But if you leave comments open, I don’t see a problem with pointing out how many self published spec-fic authors aren’t really welcome to submit with you.

  9. Not an Aussie writer, but pointed here by Simon Haynes for the self-pubbed book thread.

    I’m pitching a series of self-pubbed chapbooks in the Liaden Universe(R) series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. They began as paper chapbooks, have now migrated to electronic, and are available at the Kindle and Nook stores and at Smashwords. A complete list, with links, is here:

    We began publishing our own chapbooks including either a novelette or two short stories in each to satisfy reader requests and to steady the household cashflow. While we have been and are again published by traditional means (Baen is our current publisher; we have, I think, 18 novels with them), the self-publishing arm of our freelance endeavors has been an important part of our ability to make a living from our words since 1995.

    Steve and I would love to talk about this in more depth with you and your readers.

    Steve and I are both current SFWA members (I’m a past president of SFWA); Steve attended Clarion West; several of our traditionally published novels have won awards (Balance of Trade won the Hal Clement Award for Best YA SF novel of its year; Local Custom and Scout’s Progress won second and first places respectively for the RWA’s Prism award for Best Futuristic Romances of their year).

    Thank you for listening, and we hope to hear from you.

    Sharon Lee

  10. Hands in the air but not exactly sure if our publication, After Things Went Bad, qualifies.

    We’ve been published at a pro level. Our collection has a cover. Freely available, speculative fiction. Cheap but not free.

    However, it’s not a novel, it’s a collection of three short stories. Do we still get to play?

  11. Hey. I’m still around, too 🙂 I wouldn’t mind, though I’m not an Aussie writer. I’m releasing the sequel to my fantasy novel in Nov or Dec.

    As for self-pub and SFWA being at odds, I don’t get it. I both self-publish and am eligible to be an SFWA member. Professional writers follow the money, in my opinion. That’s my goal. Pro-paying magazines and self-publishing are ways to get readers and make money.

    And I see nothing wrong with Patty choosing who she wants to feature on her blog. It’s her space. 🙂

    • I’d love to have you here, Annie. You’re probably at the same stage I’m in, and I know you work very hard at your fiction.

  12. Hi – here via Simon Haynes – I admit to being a SFWA member and not an Aussie author alhtough I did live and work for six years in New Zealand where my “Changer of Days” fantasy duology was first published by Harper Collins New Zealand, I’ve since published internationally, in 14 languages, a dozen books. I’ve recently started a backlist-short story self pub project that I call the “Alexander Triads” – self-contained themed collections of three short stories apiece, some published before others new for this project and released for the first time here. The first two Triads – “Once upon a fairy tale” and “Cat tales” – are out, and available on both Smashwords and for Kindle on Amazon. I’d love a chance to talk more about this with you and your readers!

    Hope to year from you

    Alma Alexander

    • Thank you for replying. I would love to have you here. I will need a post of 500-1000 words (rough guideline), an author picture, an image of the book cover and a short author bio. I don’t currently have a schedule for posting, but will post them no more than once a week, as they come in. My email is Note: I will remove the email address within a few days.

  13. I’ve got two novels and a short story collection up on Kindle and Smashwords. I would certainly love to pitch my latest, Hero Go Home, here. I made my first sale to an Australian publisher, so I have fond feelings toward your country. I was a member of SFWA and would be still if I could afford the dues. Hoping to change that soon.

    • Thank you for replying. I would love to have you here. I will need a post of 500-1000 words (rough guideline), an author picture, an image of the book cover and a short author bio. I don’t currently have a schedule for posting, but will post them no more than once a week, as they come in. My email is Note: I will remove the email address within a few days.

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