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March 1999

Letters on this page:

  • Lisa Hertel tells how to attract book dealers to SF conventions
  • Anne M. Marble likes some ads and some reviews
  • Bob Newgard offers an example of marketing your book on the web
  • Dave Larsen responds to Victor Lieberman
  • Ellen Datlow calls for submissions

    Dear Locus,
         I am responsible for the Dealer's room at the 1999 World Fantasy Convention ( I had no trouble filling the room with new, rare, small press and used book dealers by combining the dealer lists for Boskone (, WFC 1998, and Bucconner, and by going to various local SF conventions and collecting business cards (including Lunacon, Arisia, and Readercon). Some found us via our web site, or word-of-mouth. I sent over 150 mailings to the US, UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. In my opinion, there are plenty of SF book dealers out there who are interested in attending conventions as dealers.
         I personally believe that nothing will replace a dealer's room at a convention. But I also think that each convention's dealer's room must tailor itself to the attendees. You would not want 6 rare book dealers at a small media convention, nor 6 jewelers at a literary convention (no matter how good they are). This is the responsibility of the dealer's room manager -- a responsibility I take very seriously. In fannish tradition, I also seek out new dealers while striving to keep a large portion of the old ones.
         Fans are an interesting group--they tend to both cling to tradition and embrace new technology. I agree that the web has had an impact on book buying habits. Sites such as and Bibliofind have made some people less impulsive about spending money in dealer's rooms. Nevertheless, people enjoy spending money at conventions. Whether it's a "gotta have it" purchase for the latest hardcover (such as at Lunacon with A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge), or just an "Oh, look! I've been wanting that for years" response to something on a used/rare book dealer's table, most people want to bring home something from the convention. Fans are an interesting group -- they tend to both cling to tradition and embrace new technology.
         For their part, many of the book dealers I know are adjusting -- putting catalogs on the web, accepting e-mail orders, and the like. For example, there's Greg Ketter's Dreamhaven books (, and the NESFA Press site (, which gets thousands of hits monthly from across the world. Other, non-book dealers also have web sites; e-bay even advertises itself as the place to find "Captain Picard as a borg."
         I hope that the book dealers who wish to go to conventions continue to do so. It provides important revenue for the convention, acts as a service to the attendees, and affords the dealers an opportunity to make money and create contacts. If your old convention is changing, seek out a new one; if your convention is stable but your sales are down, talk to the dealer's room manager about taking a year off. Don't be afraid to try out one new convention a year, if feasable. But please, don't give up on fandom.

    --Lisa Hertel
    14 March 1999
    (posted Mon 15 Mar 1999)

    Dear Locus,
         I’m somewhere in the middle on the review issue. Like others, I find myself turning to your reviews first. But I know I won’t always agree with your reviewers. That’s life. I usually go write to the Carolyn Cushman reviews -- the reviews the type of books that I like. I wish you had more shorter reviews like hers. Later, I’ll glance at the other reviews, reading them if the titles look like something I might be interested in. Because I’m always eager for a change. I don’t like science fiction and fantasy that is “too” literary -- in other words, filled with dense and unreadable prose. At the same time, I love it when a writer breaks away from the formula. (For example, I’m sick of the “We’re off to kill the evil wizard” plot.)
         At the same time, I enjoy reading the ads from the publishers. (I’m sure the hearts of your advertising staff went ba-thump when several people wrote in saying that they usually didn’t buy the books featured in the ads.) They help me find books I might have missed otherwise. In particular, I like the ads that include interviews with the writers or other “extras.”

    --Anne M. Marble
    Thu 11 March 1999
    (posted Mon 15 Mar 1999)

    Dear Locus,
         Perhaps my fellow readers would be interested in following the adventures of Jon Katz, a self-described mid-list author, in his succesful effort to sell his own book on the web.
         In his own words, “The excerpting of my book Running To The Mountain on last week was shockingly and surprisingly successful. Because of the excerpting here, I shot near the top of Amazon’s Top 100-selling books in just a few hours, and stayed on the list all weekend.”
         John’s story can be followed from “Excerpt:Running to the Mountain” (, in which the rationale for excerpting the book can be found, to “Running To The Website” (, in which Jon describes the effect of the excerpt on sales at and on Jon’s publisher.
         Hopefully, Jon’s story can illuminate how to publish hard-to-classify works by disintermediating the big publishers. Bob

    --Bob Newgard
    Thu 11 March 1999
    (posted Mon 15 Mar 1999)

    Dear Locus,
         Perhaps Mr. Lieberman represents a readership somewhat separate from those who find the reviews valuable. When looking at the advertisements, I often feel utterly disassociated from the sf market -- rarely do any of these books interest me. If one may say such a thing, these might be considered 'mainstream' sf-largely formula, commercial work that meets the bottom line requirements of large publishing houses. It seems I’ve already read them all, at one time or another.
         It’s the reviews that I turn to first when my issue arrives. I don’t already know what I want to read, so many of the books I do end up with are because of your reviews; very few of them appear in advertisements. I’d read a sufficient amount of formula fiction by my twenties. Today I’m interested in where else sf can take me. A good review can point me in that direction far more accurately than a cover shot or blind faith in a familiar author or series.
         By the way, the millennium doesn’t start until 2001 (there was no year 0), so the forthcoming books list is only through the century! [Yes. We know. --ed.]
         Thank you for a fantastic publication. I’ll subscribe for as long as I can focus my eyes to read.

    --Dave Larsen
    5 March 1999
    (posted Wed 10 Mar 1999)

    Dear Locus,
         I co-edit the World Fantasy Award winning anthology series The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin's Press) with Terri Windling. The twelfth annual collection will be out in July 1999. We are now reading for the thirteenth. This will include all material published in the year 1999.
         I am looking for stories from all branches of horror: from the traditional-supernatural to the borderline, including high-tech science fiction horror, psychological horror or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, send it. This is a reprint anthology so I am only reading material published in or about to be published during the year 1999. The submission deadline for stories is December 15th 1999. Anything sent after this deadline will reach me too late to be considered for 1999. If a magazine you edit will be coming out by December 31st 1999 you can send me galleys or mss so that I can judge the stories in time. The sooner I get the material the better.
         There is a section in front of the book that covers "the year in horror," and "the year in fantasy." These include mention of magazines and publishing news concerning the horror and fantasy fields, novels we've read and liked, and in my section, "odds and ends"-- material that doesn't fit anywhere else but that I feel might interest the horror reader (like trading cards, strange nonfiction titles, art books, etc). But I have to be aware of this material in order to mention it. The deadline for this section is January 30th, 1999.
         When sending me material please put YEAR'S BEST HORROR on the envelope.

    Ellen Datlow
    48 Eighth Avenue suite 405
    New York, NY 10014

    Terri Windling's submissions should be sent to:
    The Year's Best Fantasy
    c/o Richard and Mardelle Kunz
    2509 N. Campbell #402
    Tucson, AZ 85748

         She covers fantasy and I cover horror. If you consider something both, send to each of us. We do not confer on our choices. ****I do not want to receive manuscripts from authors of stories from venues that it's likely I already receive regularly (like Interzone, The Third Alternative, Peeping Tom, etc) or from anthologies, unless I don't have that anthology.

    --Ellen Datlow
    4 March 1999
    (posted Wed 10 Mar 1999)

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