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eBook Ecstasy Newsletter

September 2001 Issue

September 15, 2001
Volume 1 No. 23
ISSN 1530-5287

eBook Ecstasy

eBook Ecstasy is a free monthly newsletter aimed at introducing readers to great ebooks. In upcoming issues, we plan to include information on worthy epublishing news. So, authors should send notification of book signings, awards or other achievements, epublishers can feel free to send us their press releases about innovations and readers should provide feedback as to the features you would like to see added to eBook Ecstasy. This is *your* newsletter.

August issue of eBook Ecstasy is available at:


Special Announcement
ePublishing News
Featured E-Author
Behind the Scenes
Featured E-Publisher
E-Book Corner
New Releases

Featured E-Author: Karen Wiesner
Featured E-Author: Jon F. Baxley
Featured E-Publisher: Richard Hoy
Behind the Scenes: J. Knight
Featured Reviewer: Rita Hestand
Featured Reviewer: Barry Hunter

***Special Announcement***

New and established e-authors and e-publishers - if you would like to contribute an article to eBook Ecstasy, please contact me so we can highlight your books. I am especially interested in four star reviews of upcoming releases from ebook reviewers.
Lida E. Quillen  

ePublishing News

Publishers Relief Fund Coalition formed for Victims and Emergency Personnel Involved with the Terrorist Attacks Against the United States of September 11, 2001.

NovelBooks, Inc. President & CEO, Penny Hussey, announced the formation of the Publishers Relief Fund Coalition.  In this joint effort, a significant portion of all sales income from publishers' websites will be donated to a fund to be set up to assist the survivors and emergency personnel involved in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh.

"Tuesday was a day I will never forget. Our nation has suffered a tremendous blow.  I was not directly involved in the attacks, but like so many others I am shocked, horrified, and angered.  NovelBooks, Inc., along with other concerned publishers and their authors, have quickly joined as one to support all those involved in the tragedy with a loss of a loved one, acquaintance, or as a member of a heroic team of rescue, security, medical, and airline personnel," said Hussey.

"I felt so helpless watching these terrible events unfold from my TV screen. Joining this effort is a way I can use my skills to help, at least in some small way," said Mary Z. Wolf, Publisher of Hard Shell Word Factory.

"Like many others, we feel we need to do something to help in this war against global terrorism. This is something we can do. Although specific funds have yet to be announced for the victims of this tragedy, the Publishers Relief Fund Coalition commits itself to donating a significant amount of each publishing house's net income from the sales of ebook and print publications to such funds once established," added Linda Eberharter of Atlantic Bridge Publishing.

"To accomplish this goal, NovelBooks, Inc. will open its new website for sales on September 17th., two weeks prior to its scheduled grand opening, so that funds may start to be collected as soon as possible. Donations will continue through the remainder of 2001.  However, other members of the Coalition are currently open and have begun collecting for the fund already," continued Hussey.  "We encourage and invite other publishers to join this cause, and help preserve the future of our children and grandchildren.  If e-publishing is the future, the future is now, and the time to act is now."

The following publishers have all joined in this cause, and other publishers are expected to also join this coalition of on-line publishers in the coming days.

"Readers are encouraged to log on to any of the listed affiliate publishers, so that proceeds from the sales can be collected and sent to those in need as soon as possible. The more books sold by all participating publishers, means more help to those who need it at this time of great sorrow and pain," said Kathryn D. Struck, Publisher of Awe-Struck E-Books.

"We are all stunned by these events.  Even though not all the logistics are in place at this time, we must start the process now so that funds are available without delay," Marilyn Nesbitt, Publisher of DiskUs Publishing concluded.

Each individual publisher will keep readers advised of the donations made to the selected fund from their site via their respective websites.

For More Information Contact:
Penny Hussey, President & CEO
NovelBooks, Inc.

Anthologies Online offers market listings and articles for writers and editors.

The Denton Writers League is sponsoring a workshop on Saturday, Sept 22 from 10am to 4pm at the Tea Room in AntiqueLand at the Denton Outlet Mall. All North Texas writers are invited. The fee is $25 for members, $35 for non-members, and $40 for attendance and a membership.

The workshop will be conducted by Patricia Springer, a true crime writer, and Jan Blankenship, a psychological thriller writer. This promises to be a very informative workshop. For anyone interested in attending, e-mail joni@verizon.net for details.

Double Dragon eBooks is a new e-publisher actively seeking submissions of speculative fiction. Free downloadables (3000+), book excerpts, as well as a members section. Grand Opening Sept. 15th.

eBook Seminar sponsored by the Society for Scholarly Publishing on Tuesday, October 23 in Waltham, MA. Topics include the life cycle of digital books, practical insights from e-book stakeholders and how scholars and librarians are using ebooks.

e-Booksinprint.com (TM) is a free service from R.R. Bowker and BooksInPrint.com. They are inviting feedback on what the epublishing community would like to see there.

EPIC says still four weeks left to enter the 2002 Eppies! Every English-language e-book published, regardless of publisher, between November 1, 2000 and September 30, 2001 may be entered in Eppie-2002. Self-published and subsidy-published books are welcome. For complete rules and an entry form contact Linda Slater via email at:lindass@ipa.net. http://members.aol.com/seriouslywhacked/eppie_rules.htm

e-Writers (formerly e-authors) is now a private, invitation-only group.

First Monday posted an article that reviews the history and application of copyright, Copyright in a Frictionless World: Toward a Rhetoric of Responsibility by Brendan Scott. First Monday, volume 6, number 9 (September 2001),

Gotta Write Network in association with Dreamwalker Press is currently offering space in their Virtual Bookstore where both authors and publishers can list their latest titles. With this low-cost service they'll also schedule you for a cyber-chat session.

Hyperion and Time Warner Trade Publishing has joined forces to form Hyperion eBooks. No web site yet.

For those of you with PDAs, a new list has just been started to discuss all things regarding PDA and ebooks.  Readers and ebook authors are encouraged to join by sending a blank email to peanutreaders-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Rita Hestand is Featured Author of the month for September at Aspiring Authors.

Sen. Hollings plans to introduce DMCA sequel: The SSSCA. From Wired News,"...The SSSCA says that it is illegal to create, sell or distribute "any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies" that are approved by the U.S. Commerce Department. An interactive digital device is defined as any hardware or software capable of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form."

Warren Adler, author of 24 novels, has delved into publishing alternatives such as POD and e-books. Mr. Adler considers it a way to keep his backlist in print and as a promotional tool.

WHSmith.co.uk and OverDrive, Inc. announced a partnership for the launch of  the WHSmith.co.uk eBookstore scheduled to open early October 2001. The eBookstore will feature digital content from over 250 publishers which include Random House, McGraw-Hill, Time-Warner Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Taylor & Francis, and John Wiley & Sons.

Wordbeats, published by Lori Soard of Word Musem, recently switched to a monthly format.

Yahoo will be selling ebooks from four major publishers - Random House, Simon and Schuster, Penguin Putnam, and HarperCollins.

Rumor Mill

The Bookmice Publishing and Sanctum Press web sites were no longer accessible at publication time. Authors on a writers' email list report receiving a message from the publisher that Bookmice is out of business and all contracts are null and void.

Received a report that the Christianbookcase.com web site has been shut down.

From their web site, "Merlinhouse is going dormant for a period of time due to circumstances beyond our control. We will not be accepting any new authors or inquires [sic] until further notice."


Subscribe to BEAMINGS!
Beamings is the official newsletter of Wordbeams, the brightest star in electronic publishing. Subscribers will learn all about new releases; get the latest news about Wordbeams authors; and find out about Wordbeams contests, special offers, and promotions. Beamings is free and is sent to subscribers approximately once each month. Subscribe to our newsletter and find out why we're beaming!

Subscribe: Beamings-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
URL to this page:

AllAboutMurder announces their newsletter, AAM in the News. "We have a bit of something for everyone. Like murder, suspense, thrills, and a bit of romance? Check out our monthly updates from movies, to books, to writers tibbits, to quizzes and polls. Interested? You need not be a member of AllAboutMurder to subscribe! Hope to have you join in the fun!"

ebooksonthe.net is currently putting forth between twenty and thirty new titles each month. With the new eBOOK CLUB you will be assured of getting all new and exciting titles that are added to their eBookstore at a discount price of $1.00 off each title! Joining the eBOOK CLUB couldn't be simpler. Send an email  asking to join to goodreading@ebooksonthe.net. There is no fee involved and you will receive a confirmation email.

iBookTime.com -- where print books meet ebooks. Features include an Electronic Book Directory and Author Directory Locator. iBookTime.com is seeking reviews and interviews. Hand-to-hand selling is essential. As part of Scribblers summer schedule, we are attending flea markets. Part of our inventory available are ebooks from various publishers. If you would like to be a part of our Flea Market business and have your books on display (sales are not guaranteed), please contact me. mailto:manager@ibooktime.com

The Dragon's Cave is an online bookstore featuring PDF eBook downloads and limited print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks in the following genres:  SFR (SF Romance), SF/F, and Speculative Fiction. Non-Fiction titles and other genres coming soon.  Opens September 1st.  Email:  ebooks@dragonflyzone.com
[Ed. note: TDC will distribute books in the above genres for e-publishers and e-authors.]

Word of Mouth BOOK BLURBS BI-WEEKLY  lists book blurbs, back cover descriptions, review snippets, sample chapter links, cover art, and purchasing links from new and already published e-books and print-on-demand titles.

With the explosion of new titles in digital format, WOM saw a need to provide a place for readers to browse for reading material.  Brick and mortar bookstores have not begun to carry e-books or print-on-demand titles in a meaningful way yet, so Word of Mouth BOOK BLURBS BI-WEEKLY has stepped into the gap.

Come to Word Wrangler Publishing and discover the exciting new world of electronic books! Secure shopping cart, prompt 24 hr. service and plenty of eBooks to choose from. While you are there, sign up for our free, twice monthly newsletter, enter our free Fantasy Writing Contest and download free eBooks! New eBooks added frequently.


Ground Zero

Jon F. Baxley

Ground Zero is what the world calls it now
That the roaring and dying have ceased;
All that's left is a dark and dusty place
Where so many souls found peace.

For a few it seems appropriate, somehow
To label that valley of death
A ground with naught but zero value
That absorbed so many a last breath.

But I prefer to think of that ground
As more hallowed than any we've known
In the history of this great nation
Where Americans their courage have shown.

I for one, will always recall
Ground Zero's symbols of might;
Those two teeming towers of freedom
And the firemen who fought the good fight.

We may never see the twins again
Gleaming in all their glory,
So please never EVER forget
The true meaning of their sad story.

All it takes for the jackals to win
Is for good people to lose a hero,
Or quit their faith and will to live
When facing the next Ground Zero.

(Dedicated to the courageous people of New York City)

Jon Baxley
Delphi Books

 - - - - - - -
Author Info:

Jon Baxley is an award winning freelance writer, novelist, historian, editor, author and Internet entrepreneur from Irving, Texas. His latest major work is a five part serialized fantasy epic that began with The Scythian Stone and continues with The Blackgloom Bounty and The Regents of Rhum available in English and German.

Prior to Baxley's writing career, he was a golf professional and served with the U.S. Army and the United States Information Agency in the former Soviet Union. Having been a full time editor, ghost writer and author for many years, Baxley turned his attention to fiction writing and has never looked back. Some of his military and cold war experiences are captured in his newest contemporary romance novel, Red Flags, currently under development.

Baxley was a finalist in the 2001 Inscriptions Engraver Awards, and is in the running for a 2001 Frankfurt Book Award. Along with his fiction and nonfiction writing, he edits an award winning writers' website called the Amazing Authors Showcase, and is a top ten rated advisor/writer at Askme.com. Baxley was also one of the first authors to post works at the new Time Warner iPublish.com website. His Hog Heaven and White Powder, Black Reign are both highly rated excepts on the iPublish site.

This author believes that every writer should take note of what is happening with eBooks and ePublishing. He believes they are the wave of the future, and if you're not already on your 'eBoard' ready to surf, you're likely to miss the most lucrative publishing opportunity this new millennium will offer. When someone asks him about his eBook experience, he tells them, "Ask not what an ePublisher can do for you. Ask what YOU can do for your ePublisher."

Web site: http://hometown.aol.com/wasp1946/

Copyright © 2001 Jon F. Baxley


SF/F and Epublishing:  An Out-of-this-World Match

Karen Wiesner

Science fiction. Fantasy. What’s not to love? Exploring new worlds, old worlds. Magical settings. Futuristic settings. Aliens, elves, druids, shape-shifters and any character you’ve ever wanted to meet…or dreaded. Touching on the infinite possibilities of reality, unrealities and surrealities. Debatably, in no other genre of fiction is the question “What if…?” so far-reaching.

Science fiction has been in existence at least as far back as 1818, when Mary Shelley’s haunting, genre-straddler Frankenstein launched irrevocably into the imaginations of unpredictable generations of readers. The fantasy genre is said to owe its birth to the success of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit. (1)

The Appeal.

While many feel the SF/F genres have a limited audience, the fans are some of the most loyal. Many readers of the genre started when they were young children in grade school and simply couldn’t get enough, even 30 to 40 years later. Testimonies reveal the blending of genres, moving away from straight SF/F, and reader response to it:

“I started out with folklore and mythology when I was 9, and then science fiction, fantasy and soft horror when I was 14. I've been reading them ever since. I started reading contemporary romance at 11 or 12. I had a period between 14-25 where the other genres took precedence, because contemporary romance is extremely boring compared to space travel and slaying dragons. But I got hooked on romance again when I discovered the concept of romantic speculative fiction.” (2)

“I've been reading SF since I was a child. I've been reading more fantasy in the last year or so, mostly in the romance genre though.” (3)

“I read mainly SF, as I have for almost 30 years. For the last 12 or so, it has been SF romance, when I can find it.” (4)

The Definition.

How to define a genre that has books that explore the wondrous possibilities of advancing technology (a la Jules Verne) as well as the horror and misuse of it (H.G. Wells, Harlan Ellison, Phillip K. Dick, Michael Crichton, Shelley and many, many more)? How to define a genre that can include elements of science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval and horror all in the same book?

Long-time reader and author of over 60 books, including paranormal fantasies, Jane Toombs (5) says: “Since I've read science fiction and fantasy since the days of A. Merritt and E.E. Smith, I saw a gradual change from the more space opera type of SF to thoughtful projections of future societies, but then hard SF took over and I shifted almost exclusively to fantasy. Fantasy also hung from the imaginative retelling of myths to quest stories….”

Renowned SF/F author Orson Scott Card on what makes science fiction science fiction and what makes fantasy fantasy: “If the story is set in a universe that follows the same rules as ours, it’s science fiction. If it’s set in a universe that doesn’t follow our rules, it’s fantasy…. Science fiction is about what could be but isn’t; fantasy is about what couldn’t be….” (1) Yet even Card admits that there are countless exceptions to these rules.

It’s no wonder the term “speculative fiction” came into being. Under no other definition can it be true that “the science fiction ghetto is much larger on the inside than on the outside… You think as you enter it that you’ll be cramped and confined, but…it is only inside the SF community that you will find room enough to write all that you want to write and still find an audience for it.” (1)

It’s interesting to note that the categorization of books by genre is actually a relatively new development in the industry. In the early days, a book was a book. Fiction was simply “a novel”, so all books were placed side-by-side on the bookstore shelves. Hugo Gernsback (founder of Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted entirely to science fiction) is credited with coming up with the category “science fiction.” (1) Did he do anyone a favor?

Readers certainly appreciate being able to distinguish their favored genre, but imagine all the books they’re missing out on if a book with science fiction flavor “transcends” or is categorized myopically. Gloria Magid, computer programmer and SF/F reader says, “One problem is that the market for these genres is unnecessarily segmented. A fan of fantasy might not check the romance section, and therefore miss out on a paranormal that might be just to his/her taste. A fan of romance might not check the horror shelf, and miss out on the adventures of Anita Blake. And then there are the people who would pass by the science fiction section and miss Ran and Theodora’s love story unfolding in Doris Egan’s Ivory trilogy….” (6)

Certainly publishers benefited since they could create specific divisions within their houses for each genre. But how many great books are they passing by because they might not fit into the specific divisions? “[M]aybe publishers are leery of books that cross several genres. They are not sure how to categorize them, so they pass. It worries me that I may be missing out on some great stories because publishers didn’t think certain books would find an audience. I think the market is there if publishers can learn how to promote the books properly.” (6)

Authors are the only group who may not benefit from rigid categorization, despite how it may benefit readers and publishers. In fact, the only conclusion one can come to of the seeming madness of mass-market publishers’ way of operating is that established authors can tweak the definitions of science fiction and fantasy slightly to their needs or bend it all the way backwards. New or unpublished authors don’t have that luxury. If their book doesn’t match the editor’s definition of science fiction or fantasy (and, as we’ve witnessed, there doesn’t seem to be an all-encompassing definition that works for all situations), you won’t get published.

Peter Archer, Editorial Director of Book Publishing at Wizards of the Coast (7) explains a solid reason for the seeming impossibility of breaking past traditional boundaries: “Fantasy and science fiction have tended to be grouped with a small number of publishing houses (TOR, Del Rey, Ace, Harper/Collins, Wizards of the Coast, etc.) This is an expanding arena of publishing, but so many people are trying to enter this field that the competition for available publishing slots makes it difficult to break out.”

“New York publishers have been collapsing in on themselves. There were a lot more places to submit a book ten or twelve years ago than there are today [leaving us with] less publishers and more good writers…” Robin D. Owens (8), newly-contracted author of an upcoming futuristic/ fantasy romance points out.

What’s a good writer to do?

Authors in Exile.

When you start trying to fit novels into a single category and any spill-over from that category is cause for rejection for an author, you start to see why e-publishing has been such a boon to writers who are 1) unpublished, 2) but have a great story, 3) that spills into two, three, four or even more categories. Three strikes and they’re out.

Toombs (5) had no trouble selling her first “paranormal fantasy” (Under the Shadow, Book 1 of the Moonrunner Trilogy) to a mass market publisher (Roc/Penguin) in 1992. “[B]ut very difficult subsequently when both the original editor [who] was very enthusiastic—he even took me to lunch—, and the one who took his place, left the house before the second book was finished. I was doubly orphaned and left in the care of a third editor who didn't care what happened to the trilogy….” Between 1992 and 1997, New Concepts Publishing released Jane’s Moonrunner Trilogy, including the last book which was never published by Roc, in electronic format. Toombs goes on to say, “Since I haven’t been able to sell a fantasy book to a New York house since the Moonrunner Trilogy, I feel the market has narrowed, but then I don’t write the popular quest fantasy.

“At first I tried to interest print publishers before submitting to e-publishers, now I submit to the electronic publishers first because I know there are readers for what I want to write and the e-publishers will get the books to them. Also, e-publishers are friendly and easy to work with. They actually listen to their authors.”

Stephen J. Almekinder (9), author of two science fiction/fantasy e-books, relates his experience: “I submitted Winterhold to all of the traditional science fiction and fantasy print publishers, and many small presses as well, and received nothing but rejection slips. In almost every case, it was the standard rejection note, giving me no idea how close or how far I might have been from having the work seriously considered.” This lead Almekinder to the Internet, to see what it had to offer. His novel found a home “in a very short period of time” and was published in 1998. As for why Almekinder believes an e-publisher chose his book versus a mass market publisher, he says: “New publishers both want and need to take a chance with new voices because they are not constricted by the conglomerate mentality and because they are searching for something that could reward them for their willingness to stretch the genre; something that might reward them and the writer monetarily in the long run.”

Author Cherie Singer (10), who has sold three speculative romance novels to an e-publisher, had a similar tale to tell about finding print publishers wary and e-publishers gung-ho: “Large mass market paper publishers liked [my] writing and ‘fresh approach’ but turned [my books] down for not ‘fitting.’… Small presses wanted them, but…e-publishing gave me the freedom to keep my characters true to themselves. Now, two years after the fact, a large paper publisher has asked me to send to them again. I think the large mass market publishers have a misconception of what readers want to read, and in the case of science fiction romance, who will read it. I've gotten letters from men who've like [my] books as much as the female readers.”

Author of “near future romantic suspense”, futuristic time travel, romantic fantasy as well as other genres, Rickey R. Mallory’s (11) story will sound hauntingly familiar to you: “The first book I sold was Heart of the Hero. Because it didn't fit into a neatly defined genre, it was a very difficult sale… Heart of the Hero was handled by an agent and was submitted to virtually every major publisher in New York; for instance Avon, Harper, Warner, Bantam, Berkeley, Ballantine. Every response was positive, but every decision was that the book fell between the cracks and would be impossible to market. New Concepts Publishing, an electronic publisher, finally accepted [the book.] Their response was an immediate acceptance….”

The Black Hole.

Readers and writers alike believe that traditional publishers are playing by different rules than e-publishers. Mallory (11) says, “Publishing is so marketing driven today that publishers and editors are doing what television does, taking a particular idea which works because it’s unique and reproducing it in a more and more blanded down form until it is almost a caricature of itself, at which point audiences are no longer interested.”

Computer programmer as well as a SF/F reader, Talya Sumner (3) adds: “I think when big attention-getters come out, like Star Wars, The Matrix, etc., the publishers think ‘Oh, the public wants more SF/F, so we’ll publish anything.’ When the public reads what they put out to fill that niche, the public becomes disillusioned with the genre. The niche disappears, the publishers then think ‘Oh, no one likes reading SF/F, except for those few die hards; let’s stop publication.’”

Shelly Raines (12), another SF/F reader as well as a programmer/database manager, expands on this trend: “The mass market publishers within SF seems to be buying plenty of books, but they are buying specific kinds of books. Many readers (at least online readers) have mentioned that they are getting tired of the direction that SF publishers are taking. They're pushing long series, reprints, sequels, and movie/TV tie-ins. They do publish some quality work, but the work leans toward a literature that will be accepted by the mainstream. They seem to be leaving out the works in the middle that have always attracted the typical SF fan….”

Jason Laseman (13), owner/publisher/editor of Abby the Troll Publications LLC, is just as disillusioned with traditional publisher’s SF/F offerings: “It almost seems as if print publishers might be publishing more, but it's more titles by the same authors—authors many people are sick of already. I think they are being too selective of authors and stories. This is good and bad. For print, I think it is a bad thing. I know one of the reasons I turned to the web for reading, originally short stories, then e-books, is that I got sick of print. Pick up Realms of Fantasy or MZB's old fantasy ‘zine and it's the same stuff again and again. Printed books were pretty much the same. Look at some of the best selling fantasy novelists of late, for example, Eddings, Brooks, Jordan—how many times can they rewrite the same book and continue to sell it?”

Carrie Bebris (14), author and co-author of 2 fantasy novels, provides a good defense for traditional publishers selectiveness in choosing books and gets right to the heart of why all publishers need to be careful with the books they put their company name behind: “There is definitely a loyal audience out there eager for quality SF/F novels by new voices in addition to favorite authors, and I think things like the popularity of Harry Potter and the release this fall of the first Lord of the Rings movie will help spread interest in fantasy among the general population. So there is demand. But it's important to fill that demand with well-written books, so that when potential readers finish Harry Potter or leave the theatre saying "I liked that—what else is out there that's similar?" their next experience with the genre is also positive.”

Enter E-Publishing.

“When I discovered the Internet in 1997, I kept meeting talented, yet unpublished or underpublished authors on various e-mail lists. I could feel their anguish and frustration at not being able to break into print,” relates Lida E. Quillen (15), author, editor, literary agent, publicist, webmaster, as well as the founder and owner of cyber book shoppe and publishing house Twilight Times Books, Twilight Times Agency and Twilight Times e-zine. “I decided to do something about it and created Twilight Times e-zine to showcase beginning writers. Next, I started listening to writers who could not get their novels published. These were novels that later garnered four star reviews. Thus, Twilight Times e-zine, and finally Twilight Times Books were created.”

Quillen isn’t the only author who decided to do something about what seemed to be a hopeless situation. Another author-turned-publisher, Penny Hussey (writing as PhyllisAnn Welsh) (16), shares her story: “I was a writer before a publisher. I was fortunate enough to be able to pitch my first book to a prominent New York agent at a conference. She invited me to send her the first 100 pages of my book. I was walking on air! She read the book, and told me she thought I had the makings of a New York Times Best Selling author, but that “elves don't sell.”…Through the course of about one year…Leisure wanted to buy my book, if I changed some things. They agreed with the agent: Elves don't sell.

“During this time, I became the co-founder and Executive Vice President of an electronic [publishing house] and decided that if I wanted to keep my sexy elves, traditional publishing was not going to get it. So I placed my book with the e-publisher, and from the first day it was released, my elves proved New York wrong—they very definitely did sell!” Penny’s new publishing venture, NovelBooks, Inc., officially launches in October 2001. “Some days I am PhyllisAnn, the author, and I work on my writing. But most days I'm Penny, the publisher and I work on building a publishing company with the best authors and staff around. It can be confusing, but it seems I'm thriving on it. And I hope, so is NBI.”

Yet another author/publisher, Jason Laseman (13), had a simple dream: “I wanted to make a company that was devoted to speculative fiction, heavy on the fantasy. I've always loved fantasy, especially of the sword and sorcery variety, and didn't think there was enough available.” 

Laseman expands on why e-publishing was the obvious medium for his company: “One of my fundamental beliefs about e-publishing is that many e-publishers are devoted to the expansion of genres, including titles that would not normally sell, but are worthy of publication based upon their literary merit. E-publishers realize one of the reasons people are turning to them is for more variety. While print publishers are not opposed to expanding boundaries, they are more concerned about profits…. People such as myself have tuned in to electronic literature for the diversity it can provide. Shopping for an e-book is akin to the proverbial kid in a candy store. There's so much available, so many good titles available, which way do you go?”

The Hard Road.

By no means has it been easy for the pioneers of e-publishing to convert the public to this new medium. The frontier is littered with the usual round-up of common (mis)assumptions: e-books are traditional-publisher rejects without mainstream appeal, e-books are merely average or below average in quality, e-publishers don’t bother hiring qualified editors, e-publishers don’t have the inclination or option to refuse a hack author, e-publishing allows “undisciplined” authors to get away with breaking the established rules. Anita York (4), an editor for electronic and print publisher NovelBooks, Inc., says: “The biggest problem, of course, is keeping the quality of the published e-books as high as possible. I know there are some who believe e-publishers will publish anything. Trust me, that's just not true. I average 4 or 5 revisions with an author per accepted manuscript, and that's before a final proofread or two. I think it's a brand new market—sort of the "wild, wild west" of publishing, and it will take a few years to settle down.”

Never mind that at least half of the people who make assumptions haven’t read more than one or two e-books from more than one or two publishing houses and can’t really make an accurate assessment. The facts remains: Typos and bad editing plague both print and electronic books and some e-books aren’t worthy of the honor of being published just as some print books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Consider these facts, however:

* Second only to the romance genre, no other niche category does so well in the e-publishing medium as SF/F.
* Of 169 royalty-paying, non-subsidy publishers, 101 of them publish science and fantasy books—60%. Another six of those publishers have yet to publish a SF/F book, but “are open to anything.” (17)

The rise in popularity in the SF/F realm is evidenced in the E-Book Bestseller List (18):

Note: Figures include sub-genres of SF/F such as time-travel, paranormal, futuristics, etc.
* June ‘99-Avg., Genre/Romance (All releases): 45% of the books that made the list were from the science fiction and fantasy genres.
* June ‘99-Avg., All (New Releases): 37% were from the science fiction and fantasy genres.
* June ‘99-Sales, All (Overall Releases): 35% were from the science fiction and fantasy genres.
* Sep. 99, Sales (Overall and By Genre-Romance); All Releases-Lifetime Sales (through 1999); Feb. 2000 Sales (romance represented 57% of the titles that made the list, while the most popular sub-genre of romance was SF/F/F): 40% of the books that made these lists were from the science fiction and fantasy genres.
* Top 50 for 2000: 44% were from the science fiction and fantasy genres. Note: Included short story re-issues.
* 4th Qtr 2000: 60% were from the science fiction and fantasy genres. Note: Included short story re-issues.
* 1st Qtr 2001: 78% were from the science fiction and fantasy genres. Note: Included short story re-issues.

Paradoxical Irony.

Almost every science fiction story includes the concept of advanced technology. Efficiency in every aspect of life, something that saves us time, energy and doesn’t consume the planet’s natural resources. Cars are run by computer chips, not gasoline; electricity may use the sun’s energy instead of coal. Instead of cutting down trees to make print books, which take up endless space, countless books can be downloaded and stored in a single, hand-held electronic device, which is also used to read the books. It’s highly ironic that many of the people who read and write these science fiction novels, who accept their technological advances and embrace the concept of a “logical and higher plane”, are the ones who find the idea of e-books in the here and now, in reality, unappealing. Testimonies to this paradoxical irony follow:

“I've read a couple [e-books], even a couple that were good. I don't like it much yet - it's just not the same as being propped up in bed with a good book…. The technology to make reading e-books a comfortable experience isn't really there yet. The hand-held units are still too pricey, and reading at a terminal for long stretches is uncomfortable. I program computers for a living - I really don't want to sit in front of a terminal all night too! I do think that readers of futuristics are more likely to be early adapters of technological innovation, but we won't do it just because it's there. The tools need to be effective, and the writing has to be good.” (6)

“E-book is not a form I prefer. When reading, I prefer to sit in a comfortable chair and relax, not using a machine, whether it is a full computer or a hand-held one. More than likely it would take the complete elimination of mass market and small press books to make me revert to reading full time e-books.” (19)

“I don't like [e-books] because I can't take [them] anywhere. I am confined to my computer. This is surprising, I'm sure, since I love SF so much. You'll be even more surprised to know that I am a computer programmer with an engineering background. When there's a device that looks like a book that takes mini-CD books, that come with a case, like DVDs do, then I'll be more apt to buy e-books. I need something tangible in my hands. I do, however, read short stories in electronic format without qualms. As a reader, I don't want the choice taken away from me of whether I can read a hard copy or soft copy. As an aspiring writer though, if e-books are what the public wants, and I want to sell, then that is the medium I will cater to. It's about making the reading experience a pleasurable one for the reader.” (3)

“I like to curl up with a book just before bed time. It's kind of hard to do that with an e-book, so the only types of those I've ever bothered with were How-To types. I'm discovering, though, that I'm missing a lot of books I might like this way. So I'm thinking about getting into some of those.” (20)

Hope on the Horizon.

Other SF/F readers, writers and publishers predict a future with readers embracing e-books:

“Given my limited space at home and the ever increasing technology….I would buy all e-books if there was a choice of either a paperback or an e-book for a particular story.… the ability to change font size, storage of books, delivery of books straight to the computer, cost effective, hopefully never "out of print", the ability to carry multiple books on one disc or hand-held device.” (21)

“I am definitely interested in reading more time travel and would go for the e-books if I could get more that way.…” (20)

Anna Jacobs/Shannah Jay/Sherry-Anne Jacobs (22), who writes historical sagas, SF/F and how-to books, saw e-publishing as both logical and exciting. “[I submitted some of my books to e-publishers because] they were out of print or, like my short stories, not likely to be accepted for paper publication. And I thought it’d be fun to see what happened. And it was. But it’s not good financially – yet.”

Archer (7) is all in favor of venturing out into this new frontier…wisely: “Readers of fantasy and science fiction tend, on the whole, to be more computer-savvy than other genres of readers. There are substantial on-line communities of fans for many fantasy and science fiction properties (e.g., Star Trek, Star Wars, Dragonlance). Thus it makes sense for publishers of this kind of literature to move into electronic publishing.” Recently Wizards of the Coast made the move into electronic publishing. “Our feeling is that there is a significant potential audience for e-books, but we don't know much about it. Hence our decision to publish a limited selection of our out-of-print backlist as electronic downloads. Our decision was prompted in part by the company's success in publishing out-of-print role-playing game material in electronic format. I certainly hope this will be a lucrative venture, though I think the e-book medium is still only in its beginning stages. If our initial experiment works well, we'll increase our presence in this field.

“E-publishing has become a part of the publishing industry, whether we like it or not. Standing aside from it and preserving the purity of the printed form is not going to make a difference in the long run. The publishing world is changing radically, more quickly than it ever has in its history. The choice for publishers is whether to embrace this change and participate and direct it or to stand apart from it and be left behind.”

Quillen (15) points out that both authors and technology are advancing: “Authors on the web are acquiring new skills. We are starting to think in terms of multi-media effects due to the influence of our surfing experiences. The manner in which the words appear on the page (HTML coding), non-linear (embedded hot links), visual (graphics, borders, backgrounds), music (wav, mp3 files) and so on, have an almost subliminal effect. We spend hours in front of a computer screen, researching and interacting with literally hundreds of people worldwide on a daily basis. All these experiences cannot help but affect the way we will write in the future…. Continued advances in technology will open up the e-book market to millions of new readers. The e-publishers who are able to stay the course will reap the benefits.”

While Bebris (14) says she’s content working with traditional publishers, she sees e-publishing as a thrilling move that will satisfy both writers and readers. “I am excited….about the possibilities that e-publishing holds for those of us with out-of-print books. My publisher has just announced that it will start selling OOP titles electronically. While my first novel isn't on the schedule, the potential is there that someday it might be available again. This is a good thing not just for those with OOP works, but also readers….”

Owens (8) believes that readers of futuristics are on-line. “They are familiar and at home on the web. They think outside of normal boxes, are willing to accept more. Everyone is hoping that e-publishers also make it big, big enough to support writers. Everyone is waiting for that inexpensive and convenient [e-reader] to hit…. Maybe e-publishing won't make it, be one of those historical dead-ends that happen. Maybe it is the next moveable type and will change things so we never go back. Perhaps the irony stems from the fact that there are so many options out there, so many ways the future could go, more than when they started writing or publishing that it can be dizzying, frightening.”

How to Find Quality E-Books.

We live in a fast-paced world, where even those who love to read have limited time to do so. When they choose a book and then sit down to read it, they want the reassurance that the book will be worth their money and time. (23) In traditional publishing, finding books seems simpler for the reader. They know which publisher puts out books in the genres they read; they’re familiar with the authors and/or their reputations. E-publishers don’t have decades of word-of-mouth going for them.

“There really are no first-line [i.e. specializing] fantasy and science fiction e-publishers yet, at least not that are recognized by the average reader,” Laseman (13) points out. “Whereas with print, an author has most of their works with one company, with electronic publishing, the best writers frequently have books with two, three, or maybe even more publishers. If I want to read Brooks or Eddings, I go to DEL RAY. If I want to read Patricia White, which one of her numerous publishers do I start with? This also makes it more difficult for the average reader to associate with an individual publisher.”

At the same time, readers feel that traditional publishers aren’t providing them with enough reading material from these generals, as York (4) testifies: “From listening to the talk on all the SF and Fantasy lists that I belong to, in addition to the romance and general writing lists, I'd say there is definitely a problem in finding enough books in these genres. Members are constantly bemoaning the fact that they can't find any good SF/Fantasy to read, and exchanging suggestions about which older or already published books are a good read. I have a "stash" of favorite SF/Fantasy books to keep me going, and most readers of these genres do. I've pretty much given up looking for newly published books for myself, instead I haunt the used book stores and eBay.”

All hope is not lost, though, especially when you consider how far-reaching the Internet can be. Patricia Fountain, long-time SF/F reader and soapmaker, hones in on the very heart of why e-publishing makes sense: “I think that many publishers forget to do any marketing. There are more potential readers in the marketplace than are currently picking up books. But when do you ever see a television ad for a book, or a billboard? Sometimes there are ads in magazines or newspapers but rarely…. In that way the e-book may have an edge as the audience that would accept that medium can be reached through Internet advertising and e-mail.” (20)

E-publishers and e-authors have a valuable opportunity to reach their audience, if the fact that the number of Internet worldwide users rose by 80% (to 304 million in March 2000) and 59% of homes in the United States (over 70% in some of the largest cities) had computers in the home (17) is any evidence. How do you find an e-book worth both your time and money?

Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:

* Look up the SF/F books that make the eBook Best Seller List: http://www.ebookconnections.com/bestsellers/b_home.htm  (18)

* Talk to other on-line readers, either through bulletin/message boards, newsletters and listservs like Science Fiction Romance Newsletter at http://www.sfronline.com (and listserv at Yahoo); EPIC Journey at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EPICJourney; ParanormalRomance at http://www.writerspace.com/ParanormalRomance  (and listserv at Yahoo), Paranormal Romance Board at http://www.writerspace.com/pnrboard/; and PNRlite listserv at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PNRlite. Find more SF/F listservs at http://www.yahoogroups.com and http://www.topica.com.

* “I use reviews from SF/F magazines and books, online recommendations, and browsing to find new books. Gahan Wilson's column in Realms of Fantasy [Sovereign Media Magazine; 800-219-1187 or PO Box 1623, Williamsport, PA 17703] never fails bring to my attention books I enjoy, which I wouldn't have known of otherwise. ” (12)

* Find e-publishers in/at Electronic Publishing The Definitive Guide (17) [incidentally, the Guide also dispels the erroneous assumptions many have about e-books we talked about above, in addition to dozens more],
eBook Connections (http://www.ebookconnections.com),
ePublishing Connections (http://www.epublishingconnections.com),
eBookWeb (http://www.ebookweb.org),
EPIC (http://www.epic.org), EPPIEs (http://www.epic.org),
Writing-World.com (http://www.writing-world.com),
EPPRO (http://eppro.homestead.com),
Independent E-Book Awards (http://www.e-book-awards.com),
Reviewer’s Top Picks (http://www.ebookconnections.com/Eclectic%20Reader/reviewers'_2000_picks.htm),
Dream Realm Awards (http://www.ebookconnections.com/Awards/dream_realm_awards.htm),
Electronic Literature Organization (http://www.eliterature.org)
and Electronic Publishers Coalition (http://www.epccentral.org).

* Plug electronic publishing/e-publishing, electronic books/e-books into a search engine.

* Find e-authors at Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine (http://www.joppub.com/),
EPIC (http://www.epic.org),
Word Museum (http://www.wordmuseum.com),
Scribe’s World (http://www.scribesworld.com),
Sime Gen (http://www.simegen.com),
eBooks Rock! (http://www.ebooksrock.net),
and Eclectics (http://www.eclectics.com).

* Find award finalists and/or winners at the e-publisher’s websites, as well as at the above sites.

* See which e-books rack up the best and most reviews at e-publisher and e-author websites.

SF/F and e-books—an out-of-this-world match? You bet! Great books, new worlds and endless possibilities are waiting to be explored. Now is not the time to be timid. The future beckons.


(1) How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, Writer’s Digest Books

(2) Pernille Sylvest, SF/F reader, Romance Danmark: http://romancedanmark.dk, The Reader's Guild: http://romancedanmark.dk/eng/, Danish association of Science fiction readers: http://www.sciencefiction.dk

(3) Talya Sumner, SF/F reader, computer programmer with an engineering background

(4) Anita York, SF/F reader and Promotions Manager NovelAdvice.com (http://www.noveladvice.com); Editor NovelBooks, Inc. (http://www.novelbooksinc.com); Manuscript Reader FUTURES Magazine (http://www.firetowrite.com); Fantasy and Science Fiction Author Spotlights Gatemaster (http://www.simegen.com).

(5) Jane Toombs, http://www.JaneToombs.com, is the author of sixty plus published books, with more coming up. Her Moonrunner Trilogy (paranormal fantasy) is published electronically by New Concepts Publishing (http://www.newconceptspublishing.com).

(6) Gloria Magid, computer programmer and SF/F reader (http://www.glomagic.com)

(7) Peter Archer, Editorial Director, Book Publishing; Wizards of the Coast (http://www.wizards.com) is a game company, a division of Hasbro, Inc., that specializes in fantasy trading card and role-playing games. Their properties include Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. They publish a line of fantasy novels tied to their game lines.

(8) Robin D. Owens (http://www.robindowens.com) has been seriously writing for eight years. After finishing three books, her fourth, Heartmate, finally sold to Berkley/Jove and will be coming out in December 2001, the first fantasy/futuristic in their Magical Love line.

(9) Stephen Almekinder has a variety of experience as a writer. He received a finalist certificate from the Writers of the Future Contest for one of his short stories. He wrote a radio play which was produced and aired. He adapted the science fiction novel Nova, by Samuel R. Delany, into a screenplay with the permission of the author. One of his short stories was published in a science fiction/fantasy magazine, Once Upon A World, in 1997. He has written two novels in the Winterhold science fiction/fantasy series and is currently working on a third. Both Winterhold (1998) and Blood of Winterhold (2000) are published by Hard Shell Word Factory (http://www.hardshell.com).

(10) Cherie Singer has been telling stories since she learned to talk, and maybe before, if her parents' frustration level could be any indication. After leaving a career in Quality Assurance/Engineering, she now writes speculative romance. Two of her novels, Wulfe’s Woman and Hawke’s Haven are currently available from Hard Shell Word Factory (http://www.hardshell.com). Her upcoming release is Devoted Deceptions, release date to be announced.

(11) Rickey R. Mallory AKA Mallory Kane (http://www.rrmallory.com & http://www.mallorykane.com) retired early from her position in Pharmacy Management at a major medical center to pursue her other loves, writing and art. Since then she has published four novels and a novella with electronic publishers and two with print publishers.

(12) Shelly Raines, programmer/database manager and SF/F reader

(13) Jason Laseman, Owner/Publisher/Editor, Abby the Troll Publications, LLC (http://www.thetroll.net). Abby the Troll Publications, LLC, has been publishing The Wandering Troll Fantasy Webzine since April 1, 1999. The Wandering Troll is a monthly zine featuring short stories, poetry, serial novels, artwork, and several columns. The Wandering Troll Fantasy Webzine is exclusive to the fantasy genre.

(14) Carrie Bebris began her career in fantasy publishing after previous roles as a newspaper reporter and English teacher. As an editor for TSR, she spent several years developing supplements for the Dungeons & Dragons® role-playing game before striking out on her own as a freelancer. In addition to fiction, she writes articles for Better Homes and Gardens® Special Interest Publications and other national magazines. Her two fantasy paperbacks include: Shadowborn (co-written with William W. Connors) and Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. Both are published by TSR, Inc. (http://www.wizards.com/books).

(15) Lida E. Quillen (http://www.lidaquillen.com) is the author of Studies in Genre and Practical Tips for Online Authors, 2001 Edition (both e-books currently available from Twilight Times Books). In addition, she is an editor, literary agent, publicist and webmaster. She is the founder and owner of cyber book shoppe and publishing house Twilight Times Books (http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com) as well as the Twilight Times Agency and Twilight Times e-zine. Twilight Times Books is a publisher of fine speculative fiction, promoting excellence in writing and great literature.

(16) Penny Hussey, writing as PhyllisAnn Welsh (http://www.sff.net/People/GrandDuchess/Phyllis.htm) is the author of 4 fantasy/romance novels. The Binding, Book I of The Silvan Wars Saga will be available from NovelBooks, Inc. in late 2001. Books II and III will be published in 2002; Book 4 release date to be announced. All books will be available in electronic and trade paperback formats. Penny is the President and CEO of NovelBooks, Inc. (http://www.novelbooksinc.com).

(17) Electronic Publishing The Definitive Guide {The Most Complete Reference to Non-Subsidy E-Publishing}, 2002 Edition by Karen S. Wiesner, Avid Press, LLC (http://www.avidpress.com).

(18) eBook Best Seller List (http://www.ebookconnections.com/bestsellers/b_home.htm) housed by eBook Connections

(19) Vicki Patterson, SF/F reader and Special Services, Northwest Regional Library System, Hq: Bay County Public Library

(20) Patricia Fountain, soapmaker and SF/F reader: http://www.hearts-delight.com

(21) Carroll Wilson, registered nurse and SF/F reader

(22) Anna Jacobs (http://www.annajacobs.com) is the author of 20 published novels (as Anna Jacobs—historical sagas, historical and contemporary romance—, Shannah Jay—SF/F, and Sherry-Anne Jacobs—nonfiction) with another 10 accepted and in the pipeline, and her Anna Jacobs books are starting to hit the bestseller lists in the UK. Anna lives in Australia. Her three SF/F books are published electronically by New Concepts Publishing (http://www.newconceptspublishing.com).

(23) Flora Mobley, housewife, book reviewer for Romantic Times and various lists, and SF/F reader

[ Editor's note: This article first appeared in the SF Romance Newsletter. Reprinted by permission of the author.] To subscribe to the SFR Newsletter http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/scifi-romance

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Author Info:
Karen Wiesner, named a "leading romance writer" by The Writer Magazine, is the best-selling author of the Gypsy Road Series, the Angelfire Trilogy, Dare to Love Series as well as upcoming Wounded Warriors Series (coming 2002) from Hard Shell Word Factory (http://www.hardshell.com).

Karen is also the author of Electronic Publishing The Definitive Guide, a best-selling, Frankfurt nominated writer's reference. The 2002 Edition, published by Avid Press, LLC (http://www.avidpress.com), is excerpted in the 2001 Writers Digest Novel & Short Story Market. A FREE preview (zipped PDF format) of the Guide is available by sending an e-mail to kwiesner@cuttingedge.net with "EPTDG Preview" in the subject line.

Karen won the Year 2000 for eXcellence in E-publishing Award: E-author from ebookadvisor, the 2000 Inscriptions Engraver Award (http://www.inscriptionsmagazine.com/Engravers.html) for best online columnist.

For more information about Karen and her work, visit her web site

Copyright © 2001 Karen Wiesner.


eBooks: Testing Customer Support
J. Knight

I had just finished the latest in Dame Margaret Thursington's excellent "Murder in the Garden" series of mysteries, E is for Exfoliation, and was anxious to try out the ePublisher's new hotline for customer support.

The ePublisher, Thursington Press, takes a new yet timeless approach to the issue of digital rights management. Rather than using elaborate encryption schemes to protect its author's work, Thursington Press follows the software model of building added value into the purchased product that eBook pirates won't enjoy.

After downloading, registering and reading E is for Exfoliation I made a telephone call to the customer support line. The line is available only to authorized purchasers of E is for Exfoliation and other Thursington Press eBooks.

I was on hold from mid-May to sometime in early June (I forget the exact dates) but eventually I reached my personal customer support technician. She verified my registration and asked how she could help me.

"I just have a couple of questions," I said. "First, I was confused by the character 'Skippy' who kept popping up rather annoyingly in the middle of scenes offering to explain the action to me."

"Did you have a question about Skippy," she asked, "or is this purely a complaint?"

"Well, both, I guess," I said. "The character is so inconsistent with Dame Thursington's prior work that I have to wonder...."

"Added later," she said, "as an attempt to make the work more accessible. Skippy's not proving to be as popular as we'd hoped. Death threats, actually. Shall I mark you down for one?"

"Yes, please."

"Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Yes," I said. "There's the matter of the gardener's rake. In chapter two we learn that it's kept in the potting shed, but in chapter eighteen the nurse finds it in the greenhouse. Since this is a fairly valuable clue implicating the gardener in the willful destruction of the pansy bed, I found the inconsistency troubling."

"Dropped paragraph on page eighty," the tech said. "A junior editor deleted the scene where Uncle Paisley sees the rake on the lawn, deems it a hazard and removes it to the greenhouse."

"Ah, that's it then," I said. "But what about the watering can? It was blue on page twelve but described as 'white, decorated with ivy stenciling' on page one-sixteen."

"We've had many people point that out to us," she said. "It's a mistake."

"I see. And what about the reference to the night-blooming jasmine, which was out of season for a location as far north as Slatternly Manor."

"That was a cheat. We thought readers wouldn't care," she said, "but their standards seem to be higher than our market research indicated."

"Then there's the matter of the species of fox described on page two-oh-one, which is...."

"Extinct, yes, we know. In fact, thanks to feedback from readers like you, we're happy to announce that an extensive update to E is for Exfoliation is now available for sale. As a registered user you're entitled to a 50% discount."

"Hm. You've corrected that fox business?"

"That and four other inconsistencies. We've also added two more red herrings and a demented aunt in the attic, eliminated the overuse of the word 'perfidious' and cleaned up some mixed tenses in the chauffeur's testimony."

"What about Skippy?" I asked.

"Out, totally," she replied, "never to return. Would you like to order your update now?"

Of course I did.

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Author info:

J. Knight lives and works in Los Angeles as a freelance writer. He is is the author of Risen, a supernatural thriller that can be sampled at http://www.atombrain.com

Most of his work is in the area of children's television. He has written cartoons for Disney, Universal, Sony/Columbia, Fox, MGM and other studios.

His work has appeared on HBO, Fox, CBS and ABC. He has also written live action television, comic books and occasionally "acts" in independent films.

Copyright © 2001 J. Knight


Online PR - Theory and Practice, Part Four

Richard Hoy, Publisher and co-owner of Booklocker.com

Well, after a few weeks of delay, I'm finally able to bring you the last in my series of articles about online PR. If you forgot parts one through three, you and refresh your memory by going here:

ONLINE PR - THEORY AND PRACTICE, PART ONE - 07/25/01 http://www.writersweekly.com/articles/072501-01.html

ONLINE PR - THEORY AND PRACTICE, PART TWO - 08/01/01 http://www.writersweekly.com/articles/080101-01.html

ONLINE PR - THEORY AND PRACTICE, PART THREE - 08/08/01 http://www.writersweekly.com/articles/080801-01.html

In part four, we'll talk about setting up a PR program. In particular, how to build a database of media contacts.

Let me start by telling you a story...

When I started my career in public relations 10 years ago, I was an editorial assistant - the lowest person on the totem pole. One of my many pedestrian duties was to collect and organize contact information for reporters.

This process was actually quite important because through it we built a database of reporters who could be interested in the news our press office distributed. And that is important because the biggest complaint journalists have of PR people is that they send them news about subjects they simply don't cover. It just wastes everyone's time and angers the journalist, who will then completely shut out anything you say to him or her in the future.

So the first step in any serious PR program is to have a process for building and organizing profiles of reporters who might be interested in your news. The key to this is to quantify the kind of news a particular reporter covers for a particular media outlet. Then you only send that reporter news which matches what they typically cover.

In traditional PR, building a database containing what reporters cover was a gargantuan task. It required you finding paper copies of stories. But with the advent of the Internet, it has become much easier because I can, in many cases, search archives of a publication right online.

For example, if I go to News.com and enter "Brian Livingston," a reporter who writes a weekly consumer advocacy column for that publication, I get every article he's written since March of 2000. By doing this I can build a profile of the type of news Brian covers and then make sure any news I might send him fits that profile.

I can not only do this with a reporter's name, but with a keyword as well. Type in "Windows 98" and you'll get all the articles containing that phrase. Look at the bylines and context of the phrase in the article and you can get a good picture of which reporters cover that topic.

So finding who writes about what online is pretty straightforward. But now I'm going to hopefully broaden your definition of what a "journalist" is.

The whole reason that the field of media relations - i.e. dealing with reporters - came about in Public Relations was because journalist have influence over a large segment of the public (their readers). A favorable mention in a story by a few high-profile reporters can reach far more people than the PR person could reach on his or her own. This is still pretty much the case today, but the Internet is adding a whole new dynamic that is able to circumvent the power traditional media has to influence the public.

A simple example of this would be this very publication you are reading - WritersWeekly.com. I can guarantee you that few traditional media - or some publications that catalogue the media - have ever heard of us. Yet we reach 56,000 writers on a weekly basis.

Such scales of influence are common online, you just have to think outside of the box of what a media outlet is traditionally defined as. In addition to email newsletters, you have discussion lists, web sites and message boards that are read by the public.

So when you are collecting data for your media database, don't just think about Time Magazine or your local television station. Think about who controls the email newsletters, discussion lists, web sites and message boards you might want to be on, too.

Next time I'll talk about how to construct the message and send it out to the right media outlets.

Type at you then!

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Author info:

Richard Hoy is the co-owner of Booklocker.com, the most author-friendly epublisher online offering up to 70% royalties on ebooks, 35% royalties on print on demand books (the highest in the industry), and non-exclusive contracts. Booklocker.com strives to help authors make money by combining epublishing with Internet marketing.

Copyright © 2001 Richard Hoy


Title: Powerful Medicine
Author: Gaye Walton
Awe-Struck E-Books, Inc.
ISBN: 1-58749-089-7
Contemporary romance (Native American)
Reviewed by Rita Hestand

Fran Jonas comes full circle.  Can one really come home again, especially after ten long years away and in a place so different from the InDinay(Native American) world.

Fran had been developed into one of the world's greatest models in New York.  Her picture was everywhere, but Fran's life was a sham.  In reality she had nothing and ended up abused and degraded by the very ones that helped her make such a success.

Fleeing for her life, she goes home to the reservation in Arizona. She doesn't expect the pilot of her plane to be her knight in shining armor but Ben Yazzie is a big surprise.  He not only escorts her into town, he takes her where she wants to go, recognizing the quick kinsmanship they share of leaving the tribe early on.  But Fran recognizes danger when she sees it and this big beautiful Marine is pure danger to her heart. She's not ready for any personal entanglements since she was assaulted in a New York Park not long before.  She pushes Ben away at every opportunity.

They have a lot in common, they both left their tribes early in their teens.  They both had bad personal relationships. They were both shy of starting anything new with the opposite sex. And they both felt an immediate chemistry.

Still by helping Fran, Ben has to combat his own feelings that grow steadily stronger with each passing day.  And once he finds  out the danger she is in from her New York mentor, Ben is eager to take care of her.

Fran has trouble accepting Ben's help, but soon realizes that he is her only help.  Ben introduces her to some of his family and suggests she have a ceremonial cleansing and coming of age celebration.  Fran is leery of it, but willing. She'll do anything to overcome her fears.

Ms. Walton takes us through some very private ceremonial rituals of the Native American Culture and lets us experience it with her characters Fran and Ben.  This isn't a ordinary romance, but borders on genius on how well it penetrates our hearts and minds. Powerful Medicine will enlighten, entertain, and bewitch you with it's Native customs and it's unusual told love story.  Everything from the mystical old Medicine man, Willie, to the wise sage Maude will delight your hunger for characterization. A must read by all means.

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Author info:
Rita Hestand brings you reviews by romance authors of historical, western, contemporary, and sometimes even biographical.  Rita writes romances for Wordbeams Publishing. Check out Pretend Mom, and her newest release, Nick's Baby from Wordbeams. http://www.wordbeams.com

Visit her personal pages and get to know a knowledgeable writer/reviewer:

Copyright © 2001 Rita Hestand

Title: Tall, Dark And Western
Author: Kay LeGrand
Publisher: RFI West, Inc.
ISBN: 1-58697-248-0
Romantic Suspense
Reviewed by Rita Hestand

Tall dark and Western is delightful with a twist of the really dark mayhem.  When Bethany Griffith shows up in Broadwater, Wyoming with half her clothes torn from her, sunburned, and out of her head with stories of being kidnapped, Sheriff Nathan Ballard isn't sure what to do with her.  She's more than a handful. But the first mention of the ghost town of Cameo and he's sure he's got to keep an eye on her. That'll be no problem since he can't quite keep his eyes off her anyway.

Bethany doesn't take the Sheriff too seriously, in fact, she reads him as a real hick town lawman versus romeo and sets about taking the law into her own hands.  After all, it doesn't look as though he's going to do much about her predicament.  She's touched when he offers her a place to stay with his sister Ginny, but skeptical of his reasons.

Nathan gauges quickly that he has a lot on his hands when the little fireball of a woman soon realizes she hasn't a cent to her name and she's stranded in this one horse town.  But no one has seen the likes of Bethany before and she stirs the entire town of Broadwater up like a beehive. Nathan can't quite believe that Bethany is this desperate to get her hands on a family heirloom cameo.  But he assures her in his quiet way he'll take care of the matter.

Realizing the Sheriff is slow on the draw about capturing her abductor, Bethany decides to take matters into her own hands. He doesn't seem to be taking anything she says too seriously.  Even though he has practically made a prisoner of her for her own good, Bethany is determined to find her long lost heirloom and leave this hick town. And although she admits to herself that the Sheriff fills out a pair of levis like no other, she won't be caught dead with a backwoods romeo.

Bethany and Nathan become the talk of the town when they are caught making out in a broom closet by the janitor.  In no time the entire town knows about it and can't understand why the Sheriff  keeps taking his new found girl friend into custody.

Bethany cares little that she is the talk of the town when she steals the Sheriff's car, and then takes a pool cue stick after the man that kidnapped her.  The way she figures it, if the Sheriff won't arrest him it's up to her to meat out the justice.  Nathan has no recourse but to put her in jail this time.  And to her horror with a cell full of whores.

It's a toss up who'll win between the silently unassuming Sheriff and the determined city girl.  They have nothing in common but flaming desire.  The fact that they can't seem to keep their minds or hands off each other doesn't  matter.  Seems everyone in Broadwater knows they were meant for each other but them.  Meanwhile there's a madman lose who wants to do Bethany in. Trouble is Nathan has to figure out how to protect her from herself first, then the bad guys.

Kay Legrand tosses a good mixture of opposites attracting, bad guys versus good, city versus country, and a enticing blend of romance that will enflame your senses.  Her characters are well drawn and you know from the start these two are going to butt heads all the way to the alter, and that the fun is getting there.  You'll enjoy every hilarious, bone chilling moment of this romantic suspense that has both a light side and a dark..  A great read. Don't miss it.

--Rita Hestand for Romancing The Web Reviews

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Author info:
Rita Hestand brings you reviews by romance authors of historical, western, contemporary, and sometimes even biographical.  Rita writes romances for Wordbeams Publishing. Check out Pretend Mom, and her newest release, Nick's Baby from Wordbeams. http://www.wordbeams.com

Visit her personal pages and get to know a knowledgeable writer/reviewer:

Copyright © 2001 Rita Hestand

Title: The Casebook of Doakes & Haig
Author:  Patrick Welch
Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 1-931201-12-9
Reviewed by Barry Hunter

This is one of Pat Welch’s more ambitious series in that he has created an alternate reality wherein Britain has maintained its colonies up to the modern era, but airplanes and motorcars have yet to make the scene. It’s still a bit Victorian, but that works out fine because our two "Criminal Consultants" are a shop owner and his helper, a leprechaun.

Doakes begins as a shop owner selling a recipe sweetener made by his leprechaun partner until he becomes involved in solving a murder of a favorite customer in "A Small Matter of Murder". In "Savage Customs", they get involved with an Indian from the American colonies and a murder by tomahawk that is more complicated than it looks. In "Murderous Obligations", they are hired to solve a man’s murder by the victim before it happens. "Fatal Impressions" tells of a murder and a plan to cause problems in the Colonies. "Cat’s Moon Rising" is a story of catnapping and an Egyptian Queen. The longest tale finishes out the volume with a story of Doakes and Haig traveling to the Colonies and a search for the Lost City of Gold in "Golden Talons".

Welch has his tongue planted firmly in cheek while writing these. He also has his story telling and settings down pat. These are very interesting stories and we learn more about leprechauns and their many secrets and powers than from anywhere else. The characters are well drawn and before the end of the book, become old friends to the reader. I sat down and read this straight
through on the day I received it. It’s a fun read and one that should add a lot of new readers to the ranks of those who want more from Pat Welch. Recommended highly.

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Author info:

Born in Centre, Alabama. Married in 1968 to his wife, Kathy and they have one son Scott. In real life, he is a computer Information Specialist for a wholesale distributor. He hosts a chat every second and fourth Friday night at 9:00pm on the web at www.cybling.com.

Barry was a staff reviewer for Pulphouse published by Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rausch. He wrote reviews for Cliff Biggers Future Retrospective and after encouragement by Dick Geis of Science Fiction Review, Mike Glyer of File 770 and others began publishing his own fanzine Baryon in 1975. The first five issues were called What the Postman Brought, with Baryon as its name with issue six.

Baryon Online, the web extension of Baryon has been on the web since 1995 and has seen continued growth each year.

Copyright © 2001 Barry Hunter

Title: Welcome to Nash's
Author: Mary Taffs
Awe-Struck E-Books
ISBN: 1-58749-075-7
Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Rita Hestand, Ivy Quill Reviews

Ric Delmore is on vacation at a B & B in Myrtle Beach, Oregon when he deliberately looks up some old friends, Walt and Olivia Nash. They own a family restaurant and he used to work for them. They thought the world of Ric and the feeling was mutual.

When Ric meets their daughter, Kristina, she is not as receptive and gives him a hard time. Meanwhile, Walt has a heart attack and is taken to the hospital. The restaurant is helpless so Ric offers to stay and help out. After all, he is an old friend of the family and used to work as one of their waiters as a kid.

Despite the bad start between Ric and Kristina, Ric is nonetheless attracted to her – and although he finds her a little wacky, he can't squash the sexual tension between them. But what is her problem? She's been so mean to him.

After a bypass operation, Walt offers to sell Ric the restaurant. Since Ric is between jobs in his software career he decides it might work, if he can get Kristina to at least be tolerant of him. Ric and Kristina form a pact and decide to make a trial run of the business together. Things are working out great at first, and Kristina offers for him to move in with her. Naturally everyone
thinks they are sleeping together. Little do they know!

Then in walks Jesse Vincente and Ric's world is turned topsy turvy. Kristina was with Jesse for eighteen years, and loved him. But is she over him? Even though Jesse had been mean to her physically he still held something over Kristina – they still have some connection. Meanwhile Ric is in love and is serious.

Jesse and Kristina play each other back and forth so much that Ric finally draws a line and tells her, since she won't marry him, that he's through. He can't be juggled like that. Kristina tells him she loves him, but Ric's not sure anymore. How can he ever trust her again after she ran after Jesse? How can he possibly believe she loves him?

Ms. Taffs wrote this in first person, and interesting diversion from most romances. She carries a strong voice and delivers a powerfully real story that immerses the reader’s emotions in one problem after another. Despite the fact that first person usually won't strongly carry a story of this magnitude, Ms. Taffs has successfully pulled it off. She has you from the moment you read the first chapter. It boggles your mind how she plays you for the fool in this book.

This is truly a very different romance with lots of reality checks – a wonderfully-woven story that holds you in suspense of its outcome till the very end. Welcome to Nash’s is not one to miss, with very good writing in a very unique style! Although, as a writer, I may have changed the ending, you've got to read this one to answer that yourself!

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Author info:

Rita Hestand brings you reviews by romance authors of historical, western, contemporary, and sometimes even biographical.  Rita writes romances for Wordbeams Publishing. Check out Pretend Mom, and her newest release, Nick's Baby from Wordbeams. http://www.wordbeams.com

Visit her personal pages and get to know a knowledgeable writer/reviewer:

 Copyright © 2001 Rita Hestand


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Awe-Struck E-Books

For the best in romance and sci-fi and everything in between, check out the reads at Awe-Struck E-Books. "Choose a pure pick-a-pak of great Awe-Struck titles for sitting by the pool..."

Carnival, a CD-ROM anthology edited by Jean Rabe. 7500 368th Avenue, Burlington, WI 53105. Call for submissions. Needs horror - 'Tales of a carnival-gone-twisted' between 2k-8k/wds. DL: October 31, 2001. E-subs okay. E-mail: jean@lwpub.cjb.net. Read full GL's before submitting.

Colorado Spitfire in paperback on sale now by author Glenda D. Tudor.

eBooks N' Bytes, brought to you by Eva Almeida, is jammed packed with useful resources for electronic authors, gathered together in well-organized sections. Includes: where to promote your e-Books, links to send out free press releases, e-book publishers accepting submissions, and e-book reviews.Don't forget to list your e-Book in the directory.

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Gangway, an online lit mag, calling for submissions for December 2001 issue. Contemporary Australian and Austrian (experimental) literature.

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Leviathan 3 anthology edited by Jeff VanderMeer & Forrest Aguirre. 4905 Ascot Lane #3, Madison, WI 53711. Call for submissions. E-subs (RTF & Word.doc) & info to: chromatic30@hotmail.com. Needs Fantastical Literature: surrealism, slip-stream, magic realism between 3k-10k/wds. Pays max $100 per story + royalties. DL: October 31, 2001.

Practical Tips for Online Authors. Revised and updated for 2001.
"You can find lots of info about the craft of writing, market listings, writers' critique groups, etc. on the internet. But very few web sites will tell you exactly what you need to do to make a sale to an ezine, how to create an ebook, or how to market and promote your book." 1000+ verified links of benefit to writers in the new issue. Featured ebook at Twilight Times Books.

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SpecFicWorld.com's annual High Fantasy contest. Call for submissions. Needs HF/S&S between 1k-20k/wds. $5 entry fee. $175 in cash awards. Deadline January 15, 2002.

Submission Junction is an article and ebook submission directory.

The Murder Hole is open to submissions. Needs murder stories up to 3,000 words.

The Pedestal Magazine is open to submissions. Pay Rate $.05 per word for fiction up to 6,000 words. $30-$60 per poem.

The Annual Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest. Attention: Sandy Sherwood, Waukegan Public Library, 128 North County Street, Waukegan, IL 60085. Needs short stories. Pays $175 in three prizes. Deadline October 15, 2001. http://www.waukeganpl.org/brad2001.html.

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Twilight Times Books maintains a Freebies page with listings of Free ebooks from various publishers.

Upcoming anthology by Dreamhaven Books & Comics. Greg Ketter, Editor, 912 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Call for submissions - SF/F/DF/H between 2k-8k/wds. Pays 10 cents a word. DL: 10/01/01. E-mail: dream@dreamhavenbooks.com.

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