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


Author Bio

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.




"SF/F and Epublishing: An Out-of-this-World Match" Copyright © 2001 Karen Wiesner. All rights reserved.
Published by permission of the author.
This page last updated 10-23-01.

border by Windy