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Old 09-16-2008, 06:32 PM   #16
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Don't know if you saw the discussion of Lest Darkness Fall on the Tor site last week?
http://tor.com/index.php?option=com_...w=blog&id=3543
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Old 09-16-2008, 06:56 PM   #17
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What I found most interesting about the book, was how a guy from our time adjust to 2nd century Rome, how he used his knowledge of everyday things, stuff we take for granted - to make a place for himself in that specific time.
I haven't read Lest Darkness Fall, but with this comment, I'm thinking that Diana Gabaldon's Oulander series. The publisher's description: "In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

"Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidding Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives."
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:16 AM   #18
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Don't know if you saw the discussion of Lest Darkness Fall on the Tor site last week?
http://tor.com/index.php?option=com_...w=blog&id=3543
I Didn't. But now that I read it. There is something one poster said over there that resonates with me very much. About how no one nowadays tells a good story in a short concise manner. You see debut writers churn out a ten books series, each book larger that LOTR itself. Zelazny, one of THE writers of Sci-fi, in my opinion, knew how to turn out great stories, yet his books never reached the gigantic proportion that books nowadays get. Gemmell, always great (again, IMHO), usually wrote standalones. Even his books that were part of a series could be read at any order. Yet these days I see a good book, turn the cover, and yes, it is the first part of a ten books series. And the book itself is a massive thing that I can't comfortably hold in one hand while reading...
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:24 AM   #19
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I haven't read Lest Darkness Fall, but with this comment, I'm thinking that Diana Gabaldon's Oulander series. The publisher's description: "In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

"Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidding Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives."
I heard of this series but I'm wary of approaching it as it seems more romance than fantasy...
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Old 09-17-2008, 05:36 PM   #20
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General examples include Ward Moore's _Bring the Jubilee_, in which the Confederacy wins the Civil War, Keith Robert's lovely _Pavane_,

Dennis
Is Pavane an e-book? If so, where from?

Every time I buy an old paperback copy from AbeBooks or some tiny used bookshop on Amazon, it lasts only long enough to read once, then disappears into the cloud of books "lent out."

Thanks in advance for the info,
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Old 09-17-2008, 07:17 PM   #21
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Is Pavane an e-book? If so, where from?
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be. Amazon lists an assortment of paper copies.

I have it in an old Ace SF Special PB edition, and as an SF Book club hardcover.

One correction on my metion, incidentally, the turning point in history is the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I.

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Every time I buy an old paperback copy from AbeBooks or some tiny used bookshop on Amazon, it lasts only long enough to read once, then disappears into the cloud of books "lent out."
Some books I simply don't lend.

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Thanks in advance for the info,
Chris
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Old 09-17-2008, 07:22 PM   #22
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I heard of this series but I'm wary of approaching it as it seems more romance than fantasy...
I bought a couple of the Garabaldon books after a panel at a Worldcon (ConJose I think) were people mentioned that these were books that people that did not read romances still liked a lot. My mistake was not checking how thick (1000 pages) the books were before I bought them so I have still not read them.
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Old 09-26-2008, 02:49 PM   #23
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I Didn't. But now that I read it. There is something one poster said over there that resonates with me very much. About how no one nowadays tells a good story in a short concise manner. You see debut writers churn out a ten books series, each book larger that LOTR itself. Zelazny, one of THE writers of Sci-fi, in my opinion, knew how to turn out great stories, yet his books never reached the gigantic proportion that books nowadays get. Gemmell, always great (again, IMHO), usually wrote standalones. Even his books that were part of a series could be read at any order. Yet these days I see a good book, turn the cover, and yes, it is the first part of a ten books series. And the book itself is a massive thing that I can't comfortably hold in one hand while reading...
I know I am coming in on this thread late, but I think this is a really good point... and its far worse in Fantasy than Science Fiction. Novels are getting longer and yet the writers often still are not finishing the book in 500+ pages... I think the original Foundation Trilogy that Asimov wrote probably comes in a hair under 700 pages and he spans 300 years or so in that series.

I think the big problem these days is that Publishers would prefer sell a few big books than a lot of small books. The pre-production costs (i.e. designing the cover, editing, etc,) are probably not that much more for a 400 page book than for a 200 page book, and then of course regardless of size, marketing costs are the same. And naturally, its hard to sell a 200 page book for the same price as a 500 page book. Add to the fact that they can probably fairly reliably predict how well the sequels of a book will perform based off of the sales of the first book... and I think it is easy to see that the publishing houses are encouraging the longer and longer books.

Actually, ebooks, with the potential of self publishing, or at least lower production costs could bring back the relatively short stand alone novel.. as well as the Novella and the short story.... after all, they can all have the same web presence as the 1000 page book.

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Old 09-26-2008, 03:53 PM   #24
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I know I am coming in on this thread late, but I think this is a really good point... and its far worse in Fantasy than Science Fiction. Novels are getting longer and yet the writers often still are not finishing the book in 500+ pages... I think the original Foundation Trilogy that Asimov wrote probably comes in a hair under 700 pages and he spans 300 years or so in that series.
25 or 30 years ago, the dynamic was the opposite. Appropriate length for a novel was about 60 - 70 thousand words, and writers turning out longer manuscripts were often asked to trim to fit. Longer books meant higher production costs, as additional signatures were required, and would require higher prices (at a time when publishers were trying to keep PB prices under a dollar.) Back then, the dominant format for SF/fantasy was the mass market paperback. Not many hardcovers got released, and many that were were intended for the library market. Doubleday's SF hardcover program was an example: their contract specified they got half the proceeds of a PB sale. So the library sales covered their direct costs, and the half of the PB sale provided their profit.

As time passed and the book industry evolved, those considerations changed and books started getting longer. You did still see pressure to cut to fit, and some large books got issued as two paperbacks due to technical limitations on how big a PB could be. (I recommended Dan Simmon's _Hyperion_ to a friend. Bantam produced as two PB volumes, but didn't indicates on the first one it was part one of two. A friend read the first one, ran into the metaphorical brick wall of the cliffhanger ending, and was so incensed he refused to read anything else by Simmons. My comments that it wasn't Simmons' fault if his publisher was an idiot were to no avail.)

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I think the big problem these days is that Publishers would prefer sell a few big books than a lot of small books. The pre-production costs (i.e. designing the cover, editing, etc,) are probably not that much more for a 400 page book than for a 200 page book, and then of course regardless of size, marketing costs are the same. And naturally, its hard to sell a 200 page book for the same price as a 500 page book. Add to the fact that they can probably fairly reliably predict how well the sequels of a book will perform based off of the sales of the first book... and I think it is easy to see that the publishing houses are encouraging the longer and longer books.
They'd like to sell a lot of books, period. Pre-production costs are roughly the same for a short book or a long one, but manufacturing costs aren't. Bigger books have more pages and require more paper, and paper costs are a major factor in pricing.

But in general, the market seems to prefer longer books, and wants a series rather than a stand-alone. Authors doing stand-alones tend to see lower sales for those titles than for books in a series.

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Actually, ebooks, with the potential of self publishing, or at least lower production costs could bring back the relatively short stand alone novel.. as well as the Novella and the short story.... after all, they can all have the same web presence as the 1000 page book.
Yes, you can produce an ebook in pretty much any length. The trick is selling it.

Self-published ebook authors are discovering what pbook authors have long known: writing it is the easy part. Selling it is another matter. You must devote far more time and effort to promoting yourself and your work, and letting your intended audience know you exist, than you do to actually write the book and produce the electronic edition.

I had dinner last night with a friend who is a published author, with ten books (a couple under pseudonyms) in print, and several more under contract and in progress. She devotes time and effort to figuring out which conventions and other functions to attend, based on whether she can reach new groups of readers not familiar with her or her work. While her publishers are happy with her sales, she's not at the point where they'll spring for kiosk ads and send her around on signing tours. Unless you are a bestselling author, promotion is on you.
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Old 09-29-2008, 10:40 AM   #25
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I see some of your point.. though I think the series issue might be part public preference and part that there is a known audience for the works. If book 1 sells X, its probably a safe bet that book2 might well sell at least .8 or .9 X.

That being said, there are still authors who haven't gotten too much sequelitis. I mean almost any author, particularly a science fiction author can be tempted by following up ideas and plot lines that were undeveloped in the original story, but some authors seem pretty good about limiting themselves to no sequels or just a few.

Another thought... another problem with ereading from a publisher perspective is that its much harder to do book signings... you probably are not going to try and get your Kindle or Ipod Touch signed like you would a hardback . So some sorts of promotion are going to have to change. I think Baen's web subscriptions might be an idea for a lot of publishers. A return of literary magazines perhaps? They can concentrate on newer authors, and pay them to write short stories and longer works with the longer works being broken up serial style and released over a certain number of issues (The way some of the sci-fi Magazines still do it). It will allow a way for newer authors to develop a market before they try to sell novels as stand alones.

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Old 09-29-2008, 11:28 AM   #26
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I see some of your point.. though I think the series issue might be part public preference and part that there is a known audience for the works. If book 1 sells X, its probably a safe bet that book2 might well sell at least .8 or .9 X.
Yep. Publishers like series because series sell.

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That being said, there are still authors who haven't gotten too much sequelitis. I mean almost any author, particularly a science fiction author can be tempted by following up ideas and plot lines that were undeveloped in the original story, but some authors seem pretty good about limiting themselves to no sequels or just a few.
Temptation is one thing. Doing it well is another. I don't have a good feel for how many sequels appeared because an editor asked for them, rather than the author having a desire to do one, but I'd bet "a fair number". Book publishing has the same issues as movie or TV production. "One more of an established thing" tends to do better than something brand new, which is why so many movies that are remakes appear, and why some TV series get renewed long past the point where they have anything more to offer.

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Another thought... another problem with ereading from a publisher perspective is that its much harder to do book signings... you probably are not going to try and get your Kindle or Ipod Touch signed like you would a hardback . So some sorts of promotion are going to have to change. I think Baen's web subscriptions might be an idea for a lot of publishers. A return of literary magazines perhaps? They can concentrate on newer authors, and pay them to write short stories and longer works with the longer works being broken up serial style and released over a certain number of issues (The way some of the sci-fi Magazines still do it). It will allow a way for newer authors to develop a market before they try to sell novels as stand alones.
I actually heard about an author that had figured out a way to do ebook signings, but don't know the details.

But meanwhile, book signings won't be a major factor in deciding to publish ebooks. As mentioned, most authors don't get publisher arranged signing tours. The publisher's promotional dollars get reserved for stuff they hope will be best sellers. If the average new or midlist author is doing signings, they arranged them themselves.

Agreed, though: publishers must grapple with how to do publicity for ebooks.

Baen's Webscriptions are the evolution of the Baen Free Library. As originally conceived, that was promotion for the paper books. and instead of promoting individual books, it promoted authors. You could download one or more complete novels by an author, decide you liked their work, and buy the next in hardcover when it was released. It worked, too, as Baen credited the Library with driving their transistion from struggling mass market PB house to thriving hardcover publisher. Jim Baen stated in an email back then that he didn't see pure electronic publishing as a source of profit at that time.

The Webscriptions program has proven that ebooks can be published profitably, and I've no doubt Jim would be pleased to be proven wrong in his earlier assumption.

Literary magazines aren't all that likely. Publishers do issue "samplers" in paper form, containing excerpts of upcoming books designed to pique the reader's interest. But the pure literary magazine suffers from the "Who will buy it?" question. The SF magazines still do serialized novels, but they are foundering, too. Analog and Asimovs still exist, but are changing format and frequency. F&SF still exists. Other entrants, like Amazing, Fantastic, Galaxy, and Worlds of If are long gone.

Literary reviews, like the Paris Review, Hudson Review and the like are still with us, but they are a specialized niche market, reaching a small fraction of the book buying public.
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