Category Archives: publishers

Hickey of the Beast

A couple years back, I posted about a really fun zombie story by Isabel Kunkle, who I’ve since had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve just discovered that Izzy’s new book, Hickey of the Beast, is being serialized by Candlemark and Gleam, an intriguing e-book publisher.

Here’s the description:

Bad dreams? No big deal. After all, Connie Perez is starting her first year in the prep school her mom runs. Anyone would be a little stressed, right? When she starts dreaming about strange creatures and places that don’t make sense, she doesn’t think much about it: there’s other stuff on her mind. Then she starts noticing that the people she dreams about get sick right afterwards.

Then everything gets weird.

There’s something bad on the campus of Springden Academy. Something that feeds on students and warps their minds. And, as Connie and her friends try to figure out what’s going on, it starts to look like she’s the only one who can stop it.

Freshman year was hard enough without having to fight evil after class.


You can sample the first chapter here.

I enjoy Izzy’s writing, but I’m also interested in Candlemark and Gleam’s approach. They’re selling a basic subscription to the serial for $5, but then they offer a variety of bonus packages. Many of them include bonus stories, but the Plutonium package takes the cake: for $25, you get the subscription to the book, the bonus stories, an iron-on patch, and a custom one-shot tabletop RPG scenario written by Izzy. You can choose whatever RPG system you want.

I bought the Plutonium package just to make Izzy work 😉 — but seriously, I am not sure how sustainable that is. I love the concept of subscriptions with bonus features. I think that’s very clever, and probably the way you have to do things these days. On the other hand, I hope the custom RPG has some sort of formula that makes it easy to put together. It seems underpriced to me.

Authors already have to work very hard for very little money, unless they’re JK Rowling. I am a little worried about setting a precedent for that degree of personalized attention for the price of your average hardback.

As far as logistics of distribution go, I found Candlemark’s system a little confusing. They’re linked to PayPal, which is good, but require you to make your own account for their site, which I don’t love doing. If I didn’t know Izzy, I might not have gone through with that. After I bought the book, I received a confirmation e-mail right away, but it actually took me a while to figure out where to read chapter one, and I’m not sure how or when I’ll get the rest of my stuff.

My verdict on Candlemark’s approach is that I’m totally intrigued, but I think it needs more polish. I love the idea of bonus material, but I worry about placing too much burden on the author.

But enough geeking about e-book distribution! Go read the first chapter!


Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon

For the next several days, I will be participating in the 2nd annual Write-A-Thon in support of Dzanc Books. Thursday through Sunday, I will receive a writing prompt and will produce short stories in honor of Dzanc. What you can do to help is go to this link, find my name (Erica Naone) in the list, and sponsor me. Any amount will be most appreciated. I’ll track my participation on this blog, and if you’re interested in seeing what your sponsorship helped produce, I will send you the raw drafts at your request.

Dzanc does tons of stuff that’s worth supporting–they put out the online magazine The Collagist, edited by the ever-awesome Matt Bell, as well as the literary journal Monkeybicycle. They publish the annual Best of the Web anthology, and a bunch of interesting short story collections. They also do a lot to support writers. The Dzanc Writer in Residency Program is an educational outreach program aimed at youth literacy, the Dzanc Prize provides financial support to a writer of literary fiction, and the Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions are very affordable online writing workshops.

What’s more, the people involved are very nice and very dedicated to sharing their love of great literature. It’s sort of random that I feel connected to a bunch of writers based in Michigan and the work they’re doing in Michigan schools, etc, but such is the nature of the Internet. They’ve been kind to me, they’ve helped me to discover a lot of great fiction, and they’re doing their best to make that same sort of help broadly available.

This is what they say about the Write-a-Thon:

With the economy still not up to speed, traditional means of raising funds – writing grants, corporate sponsorships, etc. – have become less successful.  Here at Dzanc, we like to try and make raising money both as fun, and valuable, an experience as possible.  With this in mind, last year we came up with an alternative and interactive plan which we believed not only furthered our mission but was something those participating in would enjoy. Based on the feedback we received, we were right.

Our goal for this event, considering there are over 2000 writers in the Emerging Writers Network, is $20,000, or, an average of $10 raised per person.  To put this in a proper context, that would pay for just under 3 full Dzanc Writer in Residence Programs, or the Dzanc Prize plus approximately 2 full DWIRPs.  We will obviously be thrilled to find out after the fact that we were shortchanging ourselves with that goal. We do hope each and every member of EWN, and those who have become fans of Dzanc, will participate in our inaugural Write-A-Thon.

I’d love to give back a little to them, and I’d love for your help in doing so. It helps to know that even getting Dzanc $10 would be doing my part. But to sweeten the deal, I’ll buy any book from Dzanc’s catalog for one randomly selected person who gives to the Write-A-Thon on my behalf. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see you through their system, so if you do decide to donate, please comment on this post or drop me an e-mail. I’ll select and announce a winner by Wednesday, December 23, and you’ll get the book as a belated holiday present. 🙂

Thanks so much for your help, and please leave any questions in the comments.

Sale at Prometheus Books

Prometheus Books is giving 20 percent off all titles until December 31. I know and love this publisher for two reasons. First, they have a great selection of classic works of science and philosophy, meaning that I own many of their books thanks to my time at St. John’s College. Second, I enjoy their science fiction imprint, Pyr. It’s worth checking out what they’ve got.

The Haul

I went to featherproof books’ Dollar Store Summer Megatour at Brookline Booksmith last night, and the event was so much fun that I fell into a sort of book-buying frenzy. I’ve got more to say about the actual event and the authors I met there, but for now, here’s the haul, all of which I purchased because of how extremely aesthetically pleasing the books were, and how much fun I had hearing the authors read. I’d have bought more, but even I worry about how much I’m spending on books sometimes…

Lust and Cashmere, by A.E. Simns

Hiding Out by Jonathan Messinger

AM/PM by Amelia Gray

Trouble by Patrick Somerville

boring boring boring boring boring boring boring by Zach Plague

Hobart #9, the Games issue

When I read articles about how people no longer spend money on books, I am sure that the people writing these articles have never met me. Something like 80 percent of my disposable income goes to book buying, and the rest goes to french fries.

On the Difficulties of Publishing SF

This thread gives some interesting insight into the workings of publishing a line of books. It’s a summary, from Paizo’s Eric Mona, of the status of that company’s Planet Stories line. Planet Stories mostly consists of books by classic SF and fantasy writers such as Leigh Brackett and Michael Moorcock. I think the line is going for classic as in fun more than classic as in Great Books of the Western World.

Of particular interest to me:

I would breathe a lot easier if we had about twice the number of subscribers than we have at the moment (though there have been a lot of new additions in the last three weeks–thanks!). Right now we have fewer than 300 subscribers. With double that, the future of the line would be assured forever, because we would be more than halfway to profitability on each book before it even left the warehouse. This is the paradigm under which we operate for a lot (most) of our gaming lines, so the fact that Planet Stories lags behind its gaming cousins is something of a cause for concern.


Ultimately a book looks like it will do better if Barnes & Noble orders it, and we tend to frown a lot when they don’t, because it means the long journey to profitability will take longer. On the other hand, with distribution to B&N comes MUCH higher returns than to other channels, so sometimes a book that posts impressive preorders will turn out to not do so hot a year or so down the road, when a lot of those copies have come back.

It’s definitely worth checking out this thread if you have an interest in publishing.

Interviews With Editors

Jason Sanford points to a piece in Clarkesworld that contains interviews with 10 editors of major SF and fantasy publications. Required reading.

What is a Wovel?

Simon Drax’s “wovel,” Exit Vector, started today on the Underland Press site. First, I have to admit that I find the word “wovel,” which stands for “web novel,” incredibly irritating. That said, it’s an interesting experiment.

Exit Vector is essentially a serial, except that readers vote at the end of each segment about what should happen next. From what I can tell, Underland has published one previous wovel, though I can’t find an archive on the site, and I can’t figure out if the resulting novel will be published in print.

I’m not sure how much reader control a wovel will actually give. It didn’t seem to me that the choice at the end of the first segment would necessarily impact the plot to a large extent, but this was only the first installment.

So far, the story is about a drug-soaked teen who looks like she’s about to embark on some sort of noir/steampunk mystery quest. Pulpy, which can be a good thing. I’ll keep reading for now. I’m curious to see how the (possibly false) sense of control affects the reading experience.