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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction and Fantasy [Paperback]

Cory Doctorow , Karl Schroeder
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 July 2000 The complete idiot's guide

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Unknown; 1 edition (14 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028639189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028639185
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 18.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 857,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

If you love science fiction and would like to write some of your own, this book will give you practical advice. Describing the different types of science fiction and fantasy genres and subgenres, it explains everything from how putting your manuscript together to getting it picked up by a publisher, and suggests relevant resources to put you ahead of the pack.

About the Author

Cory Doctorow is an award-winning science fiction short story writer with more than 15 published stories. He also writes non-fiction and real science for Wired, Sci-Fi Entertainment, SciFi Universe and other publications. Doctorow was recently nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer. Karl Schroeder teaches writing courses in science fiction and fantasy for George Brown College in Toronto. He has published several science fiction novels and has won Canada's top SF honor, the Aurora Award.


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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING SCIENCE FICTION contains neither instruction on how to register a title with Bowker nor issues to consider when preparing a book for print. The title is actually ambiguous. Rather than detailing procedures for selecting and distributing genre material, it provides a broad range of excellent and inspiring advice for aspiring speculative fiction writers.
The use of the term "science fiction" is a catch-all for all of the spec-fi genres, which includes science fiction, fantasy, horror/gothic, or any story that has some sort of "fantastic" element. Some of the topics authors Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder include are the history of the genre, conventions, writers' workshops, tips on the craft, submission, marketing, awards, agents, electronic publishing, contracts, taxes, and associations. It is a survey of just about everything the writer encounters regarding the craft of producing spec-fi for the print media.
Dealing with so many subjects in one volume limits their depth. For instance, as someone who's been heavily involved with writers' workshops, I noticed a couple of types the authors missed were those at conventions and others led by selling professionals. These are the only exceptions where it's usually worth paying a fee. Frankly, though, this reviewer is a little more knowledgeable on that particular subject than this book's intended audience. The advice it gives in locating a writers workshop, what it's all about, and how to deal with the criticism is obviously coming from people who have been there and have a rational perspective. Most of the points they raise, especially how important it is to critique other people's work, come from experiences common to many writers.
Likewise with the other subjects of the book.
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Format:Paperback
I’m confused - I’ve always heard good things about Cory Doctorow’s writing, but this is the second of two books of his that I’ve read, and both of them have left me feeling disappointed. Here, he promises to “help you meld the creative with the practical and make some extra cash in the process.”

The problem is that it’s all a little too basic, and when you feel like further advice is required, you’re prompted to contact an organisation because it’s outside the scope of the book – it really does feel like an idiot’s guide, and it’s a little demeaning in places, even if it is accidental.

It also hasn’t aged well – most of the information that the book contains is just a Google search away, and half of the agents and publications that he suggests you contact are no longer in business, having failed to adapt to the digital age. It’s only fourteen years old, but fourteen years has made a hell of a difference.

Besides, it just feels like a cheap knock-off of the ‘For Dummies‘ series – in fact, the Idiot’s Guide series has always paralleled the For Dummies series, and both of them were popularised by a book about MS-DOS. I don’t know which series launched first, but I know which one is better. I’ll give you a hint – it’s not this one.

I’m not saying that there isn’t any value to be gained from reading it, but take what you read with a pinch of salt and forge your own path through the murky world of writing and publishing – promoting your work is a skill, much like writing is, and you’ll have to develop your own techniques to suit your needs.

There’s only so much you can learn from a book, and I’m sure there are better, more up-to-date books out there for you to read. Pick this one above the others if you want to, but do so at your peril.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview 17 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback
This books provides a good overview of what to consider what trying to publish your work. To some extent it is applicable to any genre as much of the writing and publishing process is the same, it is of course looked at from a science fiction perspective. Although there is the inclusion of fantasy and horror; SF has a rather broad definition anyway. One key point to note is that the book was written in 99/00, so while some of the information is timeless there are some sections that are quite dated in 2012.

There are many important topics covered such as contracts, agents and taxes. This is perhaps some of the more boring stuff that you need to do once you have written your ''masterpiece'' but it is perhaps even more important than the writing itself. The authors do a good job of presenting the information in an easy to digest and actually non-boring way. The occasional humour is also welcome.

The section near the end on promoting your material is a little bit dated when they review the electronic forms of promotion. Yes, it mentions websites but there is no mention of social media which is currently a dominant form of advertising. Facebook is obviously popular but Twitter seems to be awash with aspiring writers and their myriad spam posts to buy their wares. There are more self-publishing websites than they mentioned too, such as Lulu and now Amazon via the Kindle Direct Publishing.

I think speculative fiction will always be a strong selling genre, perhaps the authors should consider an update.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Advice 11 Aug 2002
By Steven L. Kent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My original review is below, but I have things to add. Two books made all the difference for me. Now I have an agent, and he has sold my military sci-fi adventures to Ace Book. The books that made the difference for me were "On Writing," by Stephen King, and "Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction."

King furnished the best advice for writing... the best advice I have gotten anywhere, in his tidy little book. My professors at school were patient and gifted mentors and I was lucky to have such generous men assisting me as I started out; but they were about literature, my desire to publish potboilers confused them and placed them in unfamiliar territory.

Doctrow and Schroeder provided current (for the time) and shrewd advice for how to work in the sci-fi market. I followed their advice carefully, including going to the agents they suggested. In the end, I got one of the agents they mentioned, and my agent got me a deal with a good publisher.

The following is what I had to say about "The Complete Idiot's Guide" two years ago, as I was still writing my book. I hope it is of value.

I almost returned this book when it first arrived in the mail. I took a look at the back and saw that Cory Doctrow had published all of 15 short stories--no novels, no books, no anthologies... He publishes 15 short stories and off he goes to write a book about getting published.

I did not return the book. Instead, I scanned the pages and found that the chapter headings seemed quite sensible, even practical. So I gave the book a try.

Doctrow and Schroeder may not have all of publishing credentials of an Asimov or a Card, but they have a lot of solid practical advise to offer any fledgling writer. They have put a lot of work into creating a solid, readable guide with good information about the benefits of agents, methods of editing, places to publish, definitions of genres, and the state of Science Fiction as a whole.

I almost judged this book by its cover and it would have been a terrible mistake. Having read this reference cover-to-cover, I believe it is invaluable for the BEGINNER, the new writer or the writer who is new to SF and Fantasy.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy read that explains it all! 19 Sep 2002
By Jill Myles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ok, so I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to "How to Write" books. I buy pretty much all of them that I run across. Some good, some not so good.
This one is definitely one to get! I find that the "Complete Idiot" guides are usually written in an easy to read and entertaining format, and this one certainly didn't disappoint me.
Written from two authors in the field that, admittedly, I've never heard of, but it wasn't a disappointment in the slightest. They draw from several different viewpoints, research their facts, and even poke fun at themselves through it all.
Nor does this book a bit of fluff to encourage you on. They lay out the hard facts (not everyone can make a living at writing, sometimes your books don't sell, sometimes you get rejected after 8 years of waiting, etc) without sugarcoating them, and I really appreciate a book that doesn't talk down to me.
If you are looking for a book that will tell you how to go from Chapter 1 to the Epilogue and hold your hand the whole way, well, keep on looking. This book does not particularly focus on HOW to write, but basically what the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world of writers is like. Hence the title is "Publishing" not "Writing" Science Fiction.
Fantasy authors, don't be scared away by just Sci-Fi being listed on the cover. This is for anyone that's contemplating writing speculative fiction.
This book is going to stay in my "keepers" pile! Close at hand!
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Practical, and Fun to Read! 25 Mar 2004
By H. Grove (errantdreams) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction & Fantasy" provides practical, solid advice, and it does it with the help of some very funny stories. It's at once sobering and hopeful; it doesn't get you worked up with a lot of false hopes, yet doesn't leave you depressed and suicidal about your chances of getting published either.
This book debunks popular myths and legends about writing. It covers the varieties of science fiction, as well as fantasy, including "dark fantasy" or horror. It briefly touches on fans and conventions, including how to handle your fans (the good and the bad). It discusses the importance (or not) of having "new" ideas for your stories, and of knowing your subject. It'll also point out some of the mistakes and problems that knowing your subject can push you into.
It goes into writing as a job. It covers the usual "you have to make time for it" idea that every book trots out, but it also provides useful suggestions for how to go about this. It goes over the good and bad methods SF authors use to convey information in their stories. Instead of simply trotting out the old "show don't tell" advice, it provides practical structuring suggestions, as well as examples of those suggestions. It also goes into such genre topics as world-building.
One of the invaluable aspects of this part of the book is the insider's perspective. These authors haven't just summed up their own experiences submitting things--they've talked to lots of editors and networked with everyone. They tell you what editors like, don't like, and dread.
This book gives practical advice on self-promotion, without pushing you to use the sleazy, shady, or just plain rude self-promotion practices I've seen advocated in many articles. You'll find all sorts of tips in here on readings and signings, conventions, cards and fliers, press releases, interviews, reviews, and book launches. The book even covers web sites, newsgroups and netiquette, mailing lists and awards. There's also a section on agents, electronic rights and publishing, contracts, taxes, and writers' associations.
This is an immensely practical book for genre authors, and well worth reading several times over. It includes information on everything from idea generation through publication and promotion, in as much detail as possible!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Informative 27 Sep 2000
By Steve Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I recently published my first book (a non-fiction title on computer programing) and I've been toying with the idea of trying my hand at fiction. I've always like to read sci-fi so picking up this book seemed like a natural choice. I was not disappointed.
This book gives a great overview of both the common pitfalls in writing sci-fi, as well as the difficulites you'll run into trying to get published. The sections on writing are great. I think I'll find myself watching for some of the things they describe as I read sci-fi from now on. I think this book will make me read some sci-fi in a more critical light. Some parts of this book would be interesting to many sci-fi fans even if they don't actually plan to ever write a book.
The great thing about this book is that it's not just informative, it's fun to read. The style is easy and entertaining. I really enjoyed this book.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not enough stars! 27 Mar 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The best book on science fiction writing anywhere. Not only do these authors know their craft, but they do something almost NO other book on genre writing--or even general fiction writing-- does. They demonstrate a thorough, respectful and compassionate understanding of the audience that embraces the sci-fi genre. They know and like the readers they write for, and it really shows--rather than treating them like so many wallets lined up at the bookstore checkout (a viewpoint beginning writers need to learn and experienced ones need to be reminded of). If you only ever own--and USE--one book on this topic, this is the one!
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