Voyager opens digital door — for a fortnight

HarperVoyager has invited submissions of 80,000–120,000 words (preferred) using an online portal, 1–14 October only. Details are on the website. The limited move follows a popular shift among legacy publishers to consider manuscripts sent in by email — there’s a list here. The program is for digital rights only and does consider reprints, as long as the author has the rights, naturally. It seems to be part of the push into the digital realm flagged by Publishers Weekly in July, involving HarperCollins’ ramping up output from its digital-only imprint, Impulse.

  • Romance icon Harlequin is also seeking digital content for its Escapes line, across all subsets of romance, and will consider self-published titles.

  • Submissions for Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Vol.3 are now open, looking for work published in 2012. The second volume is now available.


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  • Mieville and the bleak Arthur C Clarke finalists, and other writerly news

    embassytown by china mieville

    The finalists of the Arthur C Clarke award for best science fiction novel published in the UK last year include China Mieville for Embassytown, the fifth time he’s been nominated and what could be he his fourth win.

    The interesting comment from the chair of the judging panel, Andrew M Butler, quoted in the Guardian, for those worried about over-genrification:

    “It’s got something for everyone: alien contact, post-apocalyptic disaster, near future cyberpunkish police procedural,” he said, adding that the variety demonstrates the health of the SF scene. “It’s exciting because you can’t fit it in a box.”

    Others in the running are Charlie Stross, Booker longlisted Jane Rogers, Drew Magary, Sherri S Tepper and Greg Bear.

    Says Butler about the dystopian line-up,

    “We’re in a dark place at the moment and SF writers are responding to that. These are not books to turn to for escape – they’re not afraid to confront the dark side of life.”

    The award is announced in May.

  • Canberra’s Nicole Murphy, author of the Secret Ones, has launched an interesting project in which she mentors a writer to develop a 2,000-word spec fic story each month, publishes the finished story on the project’s website and, eventually, makes 12 available as an anthology. The chosen submission each month scores $100 and a cut of the anthology royalties.
  • Also taking submissions in April is UK publisher Angry Robot, who have an open door for classic fantasy and YA SF&F.
  • Stephanie Smith has stepped down from her role at HarperCollins Voyager, where as editor and publisher she has overseen the growth of Australia’s fantasy industry, Bookseller+Publisher reports. She’s quite the icon on the local scene and will be missed. Her replacement is respected editor Deonie Fiford, starting on April 2. OMG that’s Monday! Where has the year gone? Voyager’s farewell message is here.
  • The Gold Coast Literati event in May has announced its line-up, including spec fic authors Stephen M Irwin, Marianne de Pierres, Trent Jamieson, Louise Cusack, Kylie Chan and Rowena Cory Daniells, as well as talented comics creator Queenie Chan, crime writer Katherine Howell and many more. It looks like most of the bases have been covered, from YA to poetry to non-fiction. It’s held the same weekend as Melbourne’s Emerging Writers Festival kicks off. See the calendar for more literary events.
  • Librarians take HarperCollins to task

    Here’s a video from a library in the US, suggesting that HarperCollins’ plan to limit e-book loans to 26 times (ie approximately a year’s worth of lending, based on a fortnight’s turnaround) before libraries have to re-buy the title is more than a little misguided. It’s interesting that libraries are reinventing themselves as not just providers of reading matter, but social hubs; publishers are struggling to reimagine their profit models in an e-age, so this won’t be the last bullet through the foot thanks to a trigger-happy beancounter.

    With the ‘shelf life’ of e-books a factor, could libraries end up functioning like video libraries, where e-books are rented rather than loaned? Or should publishers simply forsake the income from backlist replacement copies, and be happy that their authors are getting exposure through the public lending system and hope that borrowings translate to purchasing? I wonder what types of inducements we’ll see added to e-books to encourage upgrading — deleted scenes? commentaries? maybe some discount coupons for the gorgeously bound hardcover collector’s edition?

    Continuum, Slights from Angry Robots, and some vampires

    So I’m in post-convention funk, short on sleep and strong on caffeine, a day back at work and wondering where the weekend went. The receipts tell some of the story: cabs, airlines, two dinners at a Chinese restaurant with lots and lots of chilli and an amazing capacity for seating and feeding 17 people at the drop of a hat, Japanese, innumerable coffees at the Lindt cafe and the State Library and that excellent sandwich bar in the Queen Victoria Building and other places besides…

    Cat Sparks’ (as always) fun photo diary helps fill in some blanks, too.

    So, the event was Continuum 5, held in the basement of the sprawling Mercure hotel complex in Melbourne, with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro as international guest of honour. She was rather grand, too. I enjoyed my vampire panel with her, and taking a new novel in the making for a walk during a reading session on the Sunday. I enjoyed meeting up with a bunch of folks from around the country, seeing Deb Biancotti launch her first anthology and Richard Harland steaming on with Worldshaker … and Kirstyn McDermott landed an award trifecta with her short story “Painlessness”, which had already won an Aurealis and a Ditmar before taking a brand new Chronos.

    Next year there will be another Continuum, in February, and in September there will be a grandaddy of conventions, the Worldcon aka Aussiecon 4, also in Melbourne. If you are in Australia and write any kind of spec fic, you really owe it to yourself to be at the Worldcon.

    Slights by Kaaron Warren

    Slights by Kaaron Warren

    On the flight home from Melbourne, I finished Kaaron Warren’s debut novel, Slights. It’s one of the first books to be released under HarperCollins’ new spec fic imprint, Angry Robot. It’s a weird title for an imprint, especially given that Kaaron’s book doesn’t have robots in it, nor any science fiction at all. The SF component of two of the other first four books also seems non-existent. No matter. What matters is that Aussie writer Kaaron’s book is a real gem. Sure, I had a little rant about the number of literal errors — you can’t get away from them these days — but don’t let that distract you. This is a compelling read, even though it’s not exactly express train pace. It’s a steam train of personality and character, wit and dread; such fully realised characters just don’t pop up that often, especially when they’re digging up family secrets in the backyard, pissing off their brother, tormenting all and insundry — and paying a heavy price. I can’t say Stevie is likeable, but her honesty is refreshing, her barbed one-liners engaging, her relationship with and indeed morbid curiosity about death intriguing and just a tad spooky. She namechecks Aussie writers Richard Harland and Robert Hood, too. Cool.

    Kaaron has two more books signed to Angry Robot. So what’s to be angry about, huh? You tell me, robot.

    Despite the previously mentioned funk, there is no rest for the wicked. I’m up to my jugular in vampires, and will be till Saturday when I present a wee talk at the Logan library’s SF month about the evolution of the vampire, from Byron to, ahem, Twilight.