Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Archive for the 'Publishing' Category

New print editions!

Monday, August 10th, 2020

New PRINT editions! Four of my backlist novels are now available in gorgeous print-on-demand trade-paperback editions, with spectacular new typesetting and interior design by Avery Olive of Bibliofic Designs. The printing quality is phenomenal — every bit as good as traditional web offset — and, at 6×9-inch trim size, these are as big as full-size […]

Getting good press for your novel

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Many years ago, I attended a talk by Cynthia Good, publisher of Penguin Canada. When asked what was the first thing she looks for in a book submission, she said, “A way to get the author on TV.” I’ve now got over 400 TV appearances to my credit, and an equal number of radio interviews […]

Writers groups call on publishers to offer fair contracts

Friday, January 8th, 2016

The Authors Guild (US), Society of Authors (UK), and The Writers’ Union of Canada, among other groups, have all just written to traditional publisher demanding fairer, more-modern contract terms. I was asked on Facebook if these initiatives were likely to get any traction. Here’s my response: Honestly? I think traditional publishers will continue to dig […]

An interview on marketing and promoting your book

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Ten years ago today, Tee Morris interviewed me for his “Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy” podcast about the business of marketing and promotion for authors. I think most of it is still quite relevant today, so here it is, a decade on (MP3; runs 35 minutes). Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook • Twitter • […]

Big-five publishers and lower ebook sales

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Publishers Weekly reported today:Lower e-book sales were a big factor in the weak financial performance at HarperCollins and limiting gains at Simon & Schuster in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2015.My own take on this is that the big-five publishers have convinced themselves so thoroughly that their product is worth a premium ebook price that […]

Did genre fiction really win the war?

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Apropos of the discussion that’s been going on here and on my Facebook wall for the last several days about genre fiction vs. literary snobbery, this is an interesting piece from Esquire. But before we get too smug and claim we — the genre-fiction community — have won the war, note that not a single […]

Will self-published authors be Amazon’s next hardball target?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 is playing hardball with Hachette, one of the big-5 traditional publishers; it’s previously done such things with Macmillan (the big-5 publisher of which science-fiction giant Tor is part). Note the template, folks: when Amazon feels it’s got a de facto monopoly, it goes after its suppliers, big and small (what Bill Gates, at Microsoft, […]

Red Planet Blues

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

My 22nd novel, formerly known as The Great Martian Fossil Rush, has a new official title: Red Planet Blues. When I asked for suggestions online, hundreds of possibilities were put forth. Red Planet Blues was separately suggested by Jeff Beeler on Twitter, Nazrat Durand on my Facebook wall, André Peloquin on the forum maintained by […]

The Doranna Durgin blog post

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

For those following Doranna Durgin’s posting — on her own blog and at the Writer Beware blog — about her dealings with Fitzhenry & Whiteside in relation to her novel Dun Lady’s Jess, my comments: Doranna contends that the book is out of print, and so the rights should be reverted to her. Fitzhenry & […]

Letter to Beginning Writers

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I updated the letter I send to beginning writers who ask me for advice today; the current version follows: Dear Beginning Writer: You’re getting this letter because you’ve contacted me about writing science fiction. Unfortunately, so many people have taken to asking me for advice that I’ve had to resort to this form letter of […]

Easton Press cancels “Signed First Editions of Science Fiction”

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Another indication of the sad state of publishing: The Easton Press is canceling its long-running Signed First Editions of Science Fiction series, a collection of leather-bound volumes signed by the authors. They’d done my Illegal Alien — which had been my last title in the 1990s for Ace — and, as soon as I moved […]

Fleming estate publishes ebooks directly

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

As The Guardian reports, the estate of James Bond creator Ian Fleming has chosen to withhold ebook rights from Penguin, his UK publisher, and instead market the electronic editions directly themselves. I’m a proud Penguin author myself (in the US and Canada; my UK publisher is Orion), but I’m not surprised by this development. Back […]

Are the days of the full-time novelist numbered?

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

I was the only author invited to give a solo talk at this year’s Canadian Book Summit, which had the theme of “Hot New Models” — the implicit assumption being that new technologies and ways of doing business, such as ebooks and print-on-demand, were going to be the salvation of traditional publishing. My talk was […]

More authors’ copies means more press

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I was asked at the Canadian Book Summit yesterday if I could change one thing about what my publishers do, what would that be? A better answer than the one I gave has occurred to me: Give the author more free copies to distribute for promotional purposes. (Believe it or not, boilerplate contracts from most […]

Jim C. Hines’s publishing survey

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Jim C. Hines’s survey results on how writers broke into print is well worth looking at. Among Jim’s conclusions: “To those proclaiming queries and the slush pile are for suckers, and self-publishing is the way to land a major novel deal, I have bad news: only 1 author out of 246 self-published their book and […]

More on self-publishing

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

An interesting exchange took place on my Facebook wall recently (starting on 8 February 2010). Facebook content scrolls away and is very hard to access after a few days, so I thought I’d reproduce some of it here. There were 109 messages posted in the exchange, but the first two were the first two below, […]

Amazon reinstates sales of Macmillan titles

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

After six days of being unavailable for purchase there, paper editions of Macmillan books — including Tor Books such as my novels FlashForward, Hominids, and Rollback — are now back on sale at Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook • Twitter • Newsgroup • Email

Remember when Danny Partridge slipped a tape player under Reuben Kincaid’s toilet stall?

Friday, February 5th, 2010

An email I sent this morning: My little line of books can only publish Canadian authors, so there’s nothing I can do for you. But, trust me, hyping your book as a “mass market dream” and hoping that it’s somehow going to drive sales that you started writing as a teenager are statements that will […]

Amazon has not backed down; Times and Post are wrong

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

First The New York Times and now The Washington Post have reported that Amazon gave into Macmillan’s demands, and it’s been flashing all over the web that this is the case for four days now. But check the source. The only reference is to this unsigned anonymous post buried deep on the site; that’s […]

Amazon vs. Macmillan: increasing jeopardy and rising stakes

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Last week in Montreal, I gave a talk about how one structures a story. I spoke about how the stakes should get higher and higher with each subsequent plot revelation. This weekend, we encountered a perfect real-life example of that structure: First revelation: my books are no longer on sale at (personal jeopardy) Second […] no longer carrying Tor Books

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Holy crap! See this coverage from The New York Times. Tor is the publisher of the current North American editions of my novels Golden Fleece, Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner, End of an Era, Frameshift, Factoring Humanity, FlashForward, Calculating God, Hominids, Humans, Hybrids, Mindscan, and Rollback, all of which are still in print. This really, really […]

Once again, folks: do not self-publish your science-fiction novel

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

An email I received today: I wondered if I could pick your brain. Firstly, I am about to self-publish a book I have written and wondered what format I should choose, size, paper weight, etc. for a Science Fiction book. I have read about them being about 100,000 words and 288 pages in a 8-1/2″ […]

How not to sell your book

Monday, December 7th, 2009

This showed up in my inbox this evening, in my role as editor of Robert J. Sawyer Books, the science-fiction imprint for Canadian publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside. It violates two of the cardinal rules for trying to sell a book to a commercial publisher. The first is: don’t query until you’re ready to submit; she […]

Basics of book design

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Okay, I gotta say it. You folks who are designing your own books: there are some simple rules you should follow. 1) the first page of a chapter does not have a page header 2) blank pages have no page headers 3) don’t put extra space between paragraphs 4) the first paragraph of a chapter […]

Should you do a book tour?

Monday, October 19th, 2009

I got asked today by a new writer if it was worth touring for a second book, and whether I’d done that for my own second novel, Far-Seer. My reply: The first thing to remember is that Far-Seer came out 17 years ago: before the World Wide Web, or any of the social media associated […]

I’ll take "Clueless" for $1,000, Alex

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

A query I received in my capacity as an editor for Red Deer Press this morning began thus: I’ve got a Fiction Novel of 40,000+ words which I am trying to find a publisher for. Front cover has been designed already and it’s on it’s way for professional editing. I stopped reading after that, and […]

The end of an era

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Received today, via FedEx, the actual production manuscript for my novel Wake, returned from Ace Science Fiction, my New York publisher. This manuscript is the one that was marked up (in various colors of pen and pencil) by the copyeditor and the book designer and me (and Carolyn, too). I now have 18 such master […]

Congratulations, Alistair Reynolds!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

British SF writer Alistair Reynolds just did a 10-book one-million-pounds deal with Gollancz, as reported in The Guardian. I think I’ve only ever met Alistair once — we were on a panel together about hard SF at the 2006 Los Angeles Worldcon — but GOOD FOR HIM! Still, I’m irritated by the reportage, because the […]

Digitial Barbarism

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Just bought Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto by Mark Halperin and am very much looking forward to reading it. From the publisher: Renowned novelist Mark Helprin offers a ringing Jeffersonian defense of private property in the age of digital culture, with its degradation of thought and language, and collectivist bias against the rights of individual […]

Job opening: Rob’s Canadian editor

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Laura Shin, my wonderful editor at Penguin Canada, has moved on to greener pastures. Penguin is now looking for her replacement: a genre-fiction editor who can, among other things, specifically handle science fiction. Note: the deadline for applications is this Thursday. Commissioning EditorPenguin Group (Canada) Location: Toronto, ON Deadline for applicants: April 30, 2009 Date […]