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Over the last couple of months I've had an increasing interest in doing something more targeted and careerlike than "housewife and part time mail carrier". My initial impulse to Get A Real Job stumbles against the realities of commuting (it would be a long one to anywhere likely to pay well), training (out of school since '81) and focus (what DO I want to do when I grow up?).

Additionally, I'm still quite taken with my lifelong passion of uniting people with things they would love, although I'm no longer willing to run a retail operation to accomplish this. I'm also more than slightly interested in using some of the vast pool of information I gathered as a direct result of running The Stars Our Destination.

So I'm leaning once again toward the idea of publishing a newsletter - either monthly or six times a year. Like the old Stars newsletter, its primary focus would be listings of upcoming releases. Because I'm not planning to sell them myself, it would also have references on good places to get books from. And probably some short articles about things that are special to me. And the occasional list of award winners or related books.

My thought is that I would be able to charge just over printing and postage for those who wanted to get a paper copy in the mail, and post the text online for free (although I'll put up a tip jar). There are already a fair number of SF related online newsletters and review sites. I'm imagining something more like a book list, and something that would have links to those other sites. My goals would be to 1) have a convenient place for people to see what's just about to come out, 2) provide linked lists of other useful information sources, 3) help rally attention for people who produce and sell science fiction, 4) have something I can point to when people ask "So, what do you do?".

Now, WorldCon's coming up, and it leads to the aweful temptation to throw together a sort of Issue 0. It would be both an example of the sort of thing I'm thinking about, and a survey to gather information on whether other people share any interest in this.

And then I remembered my little-used LJ account, and how I can get a first pass on the concept even before I've put serious work into it!

So, waddaya think?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
I'd read it.
Aug. 13th, 2006 03:55 pm (UTC)
Charging just over printing and postage and posting the text for free doesn't strike me as "career-like". But it's also true that none of your goals involved "making any money from this.'

Hmm. Do you want to make money from it?

Aug. 13th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
Well, yes and no. I would want to establish, both to myself and any potential sponsors, that I would be able to keep up the output, and that it was serving a useful purpose (people wanted it).

If I think that this is working, after perhaps six issues or so, I would go the next step of contacting potential advertisers and producing a short line of support products (T shirts, tote bag, that sort of thing). As with the shop, I don't think it's a way of getting rich, but I do think I would be able to make living expenses. And, unlike the shop, the amount of money and effort involved is small enough that I'm unlikely to get in over my head (again).

Looked for bonuses include justifying the ARCs some publishers still send me (thank you Harper and Warner!), a ready excuse for attending conventions again, and a topic of conversation that isn't gardening or the Post Office.
Aug. 13th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
I think you could do worse than to take over the niche recently vacated by Emerald City.
Aug. 13th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
Rather than a review magazine (useful as those are), I envision something more like the monthly catalog I used to produce for the shop. Very short descriptions that aim to give a favor of each book, without making any statements about its worth.

So many of my customers had widely divergent tastes that it seemed a shame to write off ANY single book based on my preferences, or literary merit, or the host of reasons that we all use as individuals to choose our reading material.

The catalog I used to produce was based on books that had already arrived, and I could write descriptions using the actual book. But what I would have preferred as both a reader and a bookseller was a list of books that were going to come out soon, so that I had time to anticipate (and budget for) them. So that's what I'm thinking of doing now.

Do you know why Emerald City is closing? The website doesn't say, and it isn't mentioned in the blog.
Aug. 13th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
Hmm. That wouldn't be as useful to me as a reader. I mean, if I want to know everything that's coming out I could subscribe to the publishers' e-newsletters. Which I don't, because I know that there's far too much stuff to keep up with. I want to know what's coming that will be of interest to me. Which means finding a source of information and opinions, where I understand the relationship between the source's opinions and mine (doesn't have to be a match, as long as I know where they're coming from... the old "he hates it, I'll have to check it out" thing). I didn't always agree with Cheryl's reviews but they were valuable to me. And because EmCit's reviews were generally based on ARCs it also served to inform me about what was coming soon.

You could combine a straightforward list of upcoming books with reviews of a few that strike your fancy... that might scratch both itches. I've seen that sort of thing in newsletters from my local bookstores.

Cheryl blogged about her reasons for closing EmCit here. "The reasons for this decision are many and varied. One of the least obvious is that I have a major logistical problem. It simply isn’t possible to run an operation like this when you don’t have a permanent home. In addition, over the past year or so I have become very disillusioned about both the quality of my own work and the general usefulness of online book reviews." Sounds like a combination of general life stress and burnout.
Aug. 13th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
The problem I always had with using the publisher's information is that it was rarely a short sum up. There was always pages of verbiage to get through - greatly appreciated for the few titles I was anxiously awaiting, but an impenetrable morass for the titles I wasn't familiar with yet.

The Locus Upcoming Books list has the meaty kernel of what I want, but without prices or an ISBN it was difficult to order anything, and they list so many tiny or academic presses that I find it difficult to wade through.

Thanks for the Emerald City link - I hadn't gone far enough back in time.
Aug. 13th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Do you know why Emerald City is closing?

Because she's got her Hugo and is now on to bigger and better sucking up?

Aug. 14th, 2006 08:38 am (UTC)
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray."

K. [just sayin', is all]
Aug. 15th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
We do our best to please!

Aug. 13th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea...I'll kick it around for a bit...

I've come to realize recently that a critical function that magazine editors do is to wade through the slush pile and find the gems among the chaff. (Did I mix enough metaphors there?) There's a lot of online free fiction, but finding the good stories is hard and tedious. Meanwhile, my husband is reading more than he ever has in his life, thanks to the Baen Books site and his subscription there. So there is a market for pointing out what's good and what should be skipped.

In the genealogy hobby, there is the long-established Cyndi's List, which started when the originator wanted a coherent site for finding genealogy resources, and there wasn't one. You might look at it as a place to steal ideas from.

I would think that the modern plan would be an online site rather than a print version. I am increasingly reading the online Sports Illustrated as well as the print copy, and can envision the day when the electronic version supplants the print version.

I think what you might want to establish is "Alice's List." This would be a resource where you would maintain semi-permanent lists of "Must Read" books, as well as the "What to read this month" list.

In poking around a bit, only Locus Online seems to be in competition. Of course, they *are* in competition. You might want to approach them about writing a monthly column, or about linking "Alice's List" to it.

I have to go eat dinner, but I'll think about this some more. I think there's a niche to be filled, amazingly enough.
Aug. 13th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
It does sound interesting and I'd even be willing to help, perhaps for the benefit of a few ARCs...

Aug. 14th, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
There's a thought. Write the kind of stuff you were talking about, and supplement it with a few detailed reviews from Mary Kay and others.

I'll bet you have a bunch of perceptive friends who would be willing to give you a review every couple of months, or even once a month.

Give me a deadline.
Aug. 14th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
Why yes, that strikes me as a wonderful idea. I even have experience.

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


after all
Alice Bentley

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