I'm very happy – and proud – to report that one of my columns Why China and Sherlock are right – has been included in Sparks, A Year In E-Publishing - An Authors Electric Anthology 2011-2012.
Sparks tells a tale of writers seizing new opportunities and refusing to give up in the face of cut-backs and a general unwillingness amongst publishers to take risks with work that doesn’t fit conventional categories. When Carnegie Medal-winning Susan Price and fellow author Katherine Roberts found that their backlist titles were no longer available they decided to republish those books themselves. They were joined by other authors who were determined to write and see published books they believed in, which they knew would never achieve commercial publication. So, in the summer of 2011, Authors Electric was born.
Electronic publishing was initially regarded with suspicion, and self-publishing referred to with contempt. In a daily blog which attracts regular readers in the UK, US and across the world, members of Authors Electric share their thoughts on these issues, and talk about their work and experience as independent writer-publishers There have been struggles, moments of excitement and disillusion and many notable successes. This first anthology of Authors Electric blogposts describes their journey so far.
With the day-job hat on, I frequently get asked to write or edit special reports for other publishers and organisations. Here's one I did for the UK's Ark Group in 2008 (don't worry, I'm not going to inflict you with every single report* I've been involved with since 1980). What is interesting is that of the ten sponsors for this report, six have changed ownership (two of them twice) during the intervening five years. * To parphrase Frank Sinatra: Reports, I've written a few, but then again too many to mention...
One of the jobs I used to do during the era 2006/7/8 was write television previews and reviews for UK SF&F magazines, in particular the BFS (British Fantasy Society) Prism and BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Matrix titles – neither of which now still exist as independent publications.
And that, sadly, was the problem. Because they were run by volunteers, had limited budgets and had to fit in with other people's mailing priorities, almost inevitably my previews arrived in print about six weeks after the series I'd been writing about had finished its first run on TV. Frustrating or what! Still, I loved the goggle-box logo Tom Hunter at the BSFA created for me!
Here's a special report I edited way, way back in 1984 where I and my co-authors set out a proposal for the Thatcher Government on how computer technology did not automatically mean people losing their jobs but would create what today we'd call the digital economy. In effect this was our blueprint for the creation of an UK-wide internet. That's the good news, the bad news is we were restricted by the constraints of early-1980s technology, so we opted for a fibre-optic framework rather than TCP/IP protocols. Still, our Big Idea – of rewiring the UK to create a new support infrastructurte, in the same way the railways revolution transformed the UK's economy and society in the 19th Century – deserves its footnote in history.