Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ammonite, Slow River, and Gollancz's SF Gateway

My first two novels, long out of print in the UK, will soon be available again in non-US English territories. The digital versions will be available first, but I'm hoping to have other announcements about both Ammonite and Slow River in the near future.

Here's the related Gollancz press release about the fabulous new SF Gateway:

Gollancz, the SF and Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, announces the launch of the world’s largest digital SFF library*, the SF Gateway, which will make thousands of out-of-print titles by classic genre authors available as eBooks.

Building on the remarkable success of Gollancz’s Masterworks series, the SF Gateway will launch this Autumn with more than a thousand titles by close to a hundred authors. It will build to 3,000 titles by the end of 2012, and 5,000 or more by 2014. Gollancz’s Digital Publisher Darren Nash, who joined the company in September 2010 to spearhead the project said, “The Masterworks series has been extraordinarily successful in republishing one or two key titles by a wide range of authors, but most of those authors had long careers in which they wrote dozens of novels which had fallen out of print. It seemed to us that eBooks would offer the ideal way to make them available again. This realization was the starting point for the SF Gateway.” Wherever possible, the SF Gateway will offer the complete backlist of the authors included.

I'm one of the 80-odd (yeah, yeah, some very odd...) authors announced. It's an impressive list. (Though sadly for you there will be no video of me doing the Yodel of Triumph; I imagine you'll cope.) Read the rest of the PR here, or follow the news on Twitter via @SFGateway.

I think the coolest part of the announcement is this:

The SF Gateway will be closely integrated with the recently announced new online edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which provides an independent and definitive reference source of information on the authors and books included. Direct links between the Encyclopedia and the Gateway will provide easy access to eBook editions, for sale through all major online retailers.

In my opinion that's brilliant publishing. It's the brainchild of Malcolm Edwards, deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group.

If you're a long-time reader of AN (it's had several incarnations since 1995), you might have heard me talk about Malcolm Edwards. Here's an excerpt from an AN answer I wrote in 1996/7:

I started writing when I was about twenty-two (that is, in 1982). I wrote a novel (it started as a short story and grew) which about two years later I sent to Malcolm Edwards who was then an editor at the UK publisher, Gollancz. He said: "Not bad, cut it by a third and I might publish it." I had no idea that this was good or unusual, but set about cutting it, anyway. In the process of doing that, I learned how to approach my own work critically, and what I saw appalled me. It was, I thought, a terrible book; really didactic. So I shoved it in a drawer and tried to get on with my life. But the writing bug had sunk its teeth into me, and I couldn't stop. I wrote another book. This one was better written but an even worse novel, so I put that in a drawer without even bothering to show it to anyone.

At this point, I decided I had better teach myself to write. The easiest way to do that, I concluded, was to write short stories. So I did. I wrote about five, and diligently sent them off to Interzone, the UK short fiction magazine. They rejected them with very kind notes. The sixth one, they bought. This was 1987. I was thrilled. (I can still remember the bubble of joy bursting up through my spine when I opened that letter. Ah, nothing like it.) Then I decided to apply for Clarion--the SF/F writers' workshop held annually at Michigan State University. To cut a very long story short, I went, met Kelley, fell in love, moved to the US and Became A Writer. I sold a few more short stories. Then in 1991, I got a letter** from Malcolm Edwards, who had now moved on to bigger and better things and was the Editorial Director at HarperCollins UK. "Dear Ms. Griffith," he said [this quote, like the other one, is from memory, so if you're reading this, Malcolm, I hope it at least resembles the truth]***, "I've been enjoying your short fiction. If you happen to be writing a novel, I'd love to see it." I wrote back by return of post and said, essentially: Wow, actually I'm writing two, here's what they're about. This, incidentally, was a complete lie--I wasn't writing a novel at all. I still didn't think I knew enough about writing to try. But he wrote back and said: "Like the sound of both of them, when can I see them?" So I sat down and wrote Ammonite, and he bought it.

(For those who like writing-process porn and writerly anecdotes, you can find a much meatier version here.)

Ammonite appeared in early 1993 (from Ballantine/Del Rey in the US and HarperCollins/Grafton in the UK). It won some awards. Slow River followed two years later (ditto). And ditto. But the books still went out of print in the UK. (That's the UK publishing reality. It's different in the US. Here both books here have been through a zillion printings and still sell steadily, if not spectacularly, in print and digital editions.)

So it's wonderful to be able to announce that I'll finally be a Gollancz author--back where I started all those years ago. Repeat Yodel of Triumph, add Nod of Satisfaction, and follow, as always, with beer.


* It's not a library. No lending. You'll have to pay to play--but I have no doubt they'll be smart enough to price realistically for the market. Unlike some publishers, who are still playing silly buggers with 'dynamic pricing' for my novels.

** Letter, as in typed on paper and put in one of those blue, striped-edge airmail envelopes; this was before email.

*** In fact Malcolm did recently read that blog post. So now he knows I lied engaged in an aspirational statement.

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