Inside the News

Industry News, January 2019

TV and Movies

Comic-Related Movies and TV

Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse made comics fans proud on Golden Globes night by breaking
Disney and Pixar’s rarely-broken strangle-hold on the category and swooping
away with Best Animated Picture

In other news somewhat related to comics, the
director of Deadpool is teaming up
with the director of Seven to produce
an animated anthology series called Love, Death &
, comprised of 18 shorts running between 5 and 15 minutes each,
from different filmmakers and directed at adults. The individual shorts will
showcase different styles of animation, and a handful of stills are available at
the above link to give a hint of what they’ll look like.

Netflix Original Series and More

Netflix’s acclaimed sci-fi horror series Stranger Things will return July 4
with a new season focusing on the familiar characters. While the teaser trailer
that’s been released doesn’t offer much in the way of plot hints, it does
suggest that at least some of the action will center around a new Starcourt
Mall arriving in town, and a new character played by Maya Thurman-Hawke, who
will sell ice cream in the food court along with Steve (Joe Keery). Francesca
Reale (Haters Back Off!), Carey Elwes
(The Princess Bride fame) and Jack
Busey (Starship Troopers) will also
appear, and a three-book
prequel series
and behind-the-scenes book are also in the works, if you can’t
get enough of the creepy world of Hawkins.

And in their continuing search for new series, Netflix has ordered an original Shadow and Bone series based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows Grishaverse fantasy novels. The series will be run by Eric Heisserer, the writer behind Bird Box, and Shawn Levy, the executive producer of Stranger Things. Netflix is clearly banking on the fact that viewers can’t do without their content – on Monday they made the largest increase to subscription costs since opening the streaming field more than a decade ago, raising prices 13-18%. Whether or not this change will sit well with the audience has yet to be seen, but the stock market certainly approved of the change.

Netflix is clearly banking on the fact that viewers can’t do without their content – on Monday they made the largest increase to subscription costs since opening the streaming field more than a decade ago, raising prices 13-18%. Whether or not this change will sit well with the audience has yet to be seen, but the stock market certainly approved of the change.

TV and Movie Shorts

Publishing News

Short Story Markets

With so many writers focusing on New Year's resolutions around
writing and publishing, I thought I'd mention a bit of good advice for writers
at the start of their careers: Submit to genre short fiction magazines and

In the interest of disclosure, I give this advice because I love
short fiction. But I've also found short fiction markets to generally be very
open and supportive of new writers.

For example, editor C.C. Finlay recently said that
Fantasy and Science Fiction
63 stories in 2018 (3 novellas, 21 novelets, 39 shorts). 22 (more than a third)
were by writers making their 1st appearance in F&SF. 5 were by writers
making their first pro genre sale." And Finlay added the numbers
from 2017 were almost identical

Asimov's Science Fiction is another pro-level SF
magazine which publishes a good number of new writers each year, as does Beneath
Ceaseless Skies
. Both Asimov's
editor Sheila Williams and BCS
editor Scott H. Andrews are known for reading every submission they
receive and for encouraging and publishing works by new writers.

Two other magazines I urge new writers to consider are Interzone
and Black Static. While these
magazines don't pay pro rates, they're known for their high quality stories and
for the attention their authors receive. Editor Andy Cox has an excellent
ability to find stories by new writers in his slush pile. Each year Cox
publishes (by my estimate) a dozen or more new writers who are receiving their
first publication in one of his magazines. 

Genre magazines can also be more open to diverse writers and
stories than traditional publishers. For example, over two-thirds of the
original fiction published by The Dark
last year was written by women and people of color. The Dark, like many other genre magazines, is also open to translations
of genre stories from around the world.

And those are only a few of the genre magazines which actively
seek out stories by new writers. Others worth checking out include Uncanny,
Apex, Clarkesworld
, and Nightmare,
but there are too many to list all of them. 

One reason short fiction markets are so receptive to new writers
is that many writers turn to longer works such as novels as they advance in
their careers. So short fiction magazines have a much larger level of writer
churn than book-length publishers. This means good short fiction editors know
they must continually seek out new writers – which is great news for those

New Publisher for Space and Time Magazine

Last year Space and Time Magazine said
they would
be closing after 52 years of publication
. However, the magazine
rang in the New Year with the announcement that Angela Yuriko Smith
take over as publisher beginning with the next issue (#133), tentatively
scheduled for late spring/early summer 2019. 

Space and Time Magazine was launched in 1966 by
original publisher and editor Gordon Linzner. The magazine faced a potential
shutdown 13 years ago until Hildy Silverman took it over. Now, as the magazine
states, history has repeated itself with another new publisher stepping up to
keep it going.

Beware of Morality Clauses in Author Contracts

Judith Shulevitz offers an
look at the morality clauses many publishers are trying to insert into their
author contracts
. As an example of these clauses Shulevitz describes the
contract used by Condé Nast
magazines, which states that if in the company’s “sole judgment”  the writer “becomes the subject of public
disrepute, contempt, complaints or scandals,” Condé Nast can terminate the agreement.

As Shulevitz explains, this clause means
“a writer need not have done anything wrong; she need only become scandalous.
In the age of the Twitter mob, that could mean simply writing or saying
something that offends some group of strident tweeters.”

Authors should definitely
beware of these clauses and strongly push back on them.

Publishing Shorts

  • The Flip is a new e-newsletter focused on female leadership in publishing. The first issue goes out January 28. Subscribe here.

Video Game News

Fallout Creators Go to The Outer Worlds

On the heels of significant backlash against Bethesda over the release of Fallout 76, the original creators of Fallout and the developers behind Fallout: New Vegas have announced a new game titled The Outer Worlds. Based on the trailer, the new game would seem to be combining stylistic elements familiar to players of Fallout with a science fiction space setting in a universe where corporations have pushed colonists to the very edges of the universe. No release date has been announced yet, but based on what we’ve seen so far, fans of space RPGs and the Fallout universe will both find something worth looking into here.

Procedural Content Generation

And if you are a game developer, you may want
to read Gamasutra’s piece discussing with a number of developers why
and how to best use procedural content generation
, and how to avoid its misuse.

Gamasutra also offers
a 2018
year in review
with their “top games, devs, events and trends.”

Books and Comic Books News

Kamala Khan Gets a New Creative Team

G. Willow Wilson will be passing the Ms. Marvel torch on to Eisner Award-winning writer Saladin Ahmed. Wilson has written the series since Kamala Khan’s debut in 2014, to great popularity and critical acclaim. There’s little doubt that Ms. Marvel will be in good hands, however – in addition to winning the Eisner Award, Ahmed’s Black Bolt series for Marvel was a finalist for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, and he has recently been writing for Miles Morales: Spider-Man.

SFWA Awards Announced

SFWA has announced William Gibson as their 35th Damon Knight Grand Master for his contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The award recognizes “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” In addition, science fiction author and astrophysicist Gregory Benford has been awarded the 2019 Robert A. Heinlein Award, “bestowed for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space.”

Podcasting News

Parsec Awards Respond to Complaint

The Parsec
Awards committee has responded to a complaint
alleging that one of their
2018 winners had “a history of extremely disturbing behavior” with a statement
that the unidentified winner can keep their award and that the committee feels
the 2018 awards were judged in accordance with stated policies and procedures. “It
is the goal of The Parsecs to judge solely on the merit of the content,” the
committee continued, “and not on gender, heritage, religious belief, sexual
orientation, politics, or other factors not in the podcast as presented to the

You Might Have Missed

Conventions News

According to Amanda Cherry's Twitter account, Emerald City Comic Con will have a "Consent is Sexy" panel featuring Meg Elison, Jasmine Silvera, Seanan McGuire, Joseph Brassey, Liz Argall, and herself. Emerald City Comic Con features a mix of guests from comics, entertainment, and the literary world, and will be held in Seattle, Washington (USA), on March 14-17.

Inside the News

Industry News, December 2018

Beware of Bad Clauses in Literary Agent Contracts

Recently, a literary agent was criticized online for including this clause in his contract:

"Please note: in the event that the agent sells the work to a publisher who provides no cash advance payment, the author agrees to pay $500 to the Agency in advance of signing the contract - an amount that will be reimbursed through future royalties."

Obviously this clause causes concern because money should flow to the writer, not from the writer to their agent.The clause could also cause a serious conflict of interest for the agent, who might be willing to make a deal not in the author’s best interest because the agent would still be paid by the author.

I tracked down the agent who had included the clause and asked him about it. The agent said he included it because “I have recently sold two books to publishers who do not offer a cash advance but, instead, have slightly higher royalties. The $500 clause simply assures that we are paid for our time and if the book does receive royalties - the author gets paid back in full.”

To the agent’s credit, he decided shortly after we spoke to remove the clause from all his contracts. However, I’ve heard of similar clauses being included on a few occasions in other agency contracts.

Authors should always push back on clauses like this. While publishing is continually changing, with more publishers offering deals that do not carry up-front cash advances, that doesn’t mean authors should pay their agents in such cases. Paying your agent is a slippery slope our genre’s authors do not want to find themselves sliding down.

Pyr Sale

Prometheus Books has sold its two genre imprints, including Pyr, to Start Publishing. Start Publishing is a decade-old press which got its start by licensing Warren Lapine's digital backlist and also by purchasing many of the assets ofNightshade Books when they went under. The company has since grown quickly by purchasing other imprints, a process Start calls "strategic acquisitions."

Some authors are not happy with the deal. One author (who wished to not be named publicly) complained on Facebook about their publishing rights being subject to this secondary sale. However, it appears that there’s nothing authors can do to stop their books from being taken over by Start Publishing.

Beyond how this deal affects authors, I'm curious about Start Publishing's long-term plans. The press appears to be running their business by essentially buying up SF/F works from other publishers, while also releasing a limited number of new books. So far this appears to be working for them, but what their long-term publishing goal is remains to be seen.

What Do the Recent Changes at Tor Mean?

Tor Books has seen a lot of changes this year, with Devi Pillai being named vice president and publisher while Patrick Nielsen Hayden was named vice president and editor-in-chief. In addition, Tor founder Tom Doherty stepped down from his role running the overall company in charge of the publisher.

With Tor being one of the science fiction and fantasy genre's most influential and important book publishers,these changes raise the question: is Tor changing course on what they publish?

In general, the answer appears to be ‘no’. However, it does look like that Tor has reworked how they consider and accept books, with editors having to make more detailed commercial cases for the books they want to accept. Authors should definitely make note of this.

For more details on what all this means and the process by which Tor now considers the books they accept, read this in-depth report.

Book Smugglers Publishing Shifts Focus

In sad news, starting December 31st, Book Smugglers Publishing will shift their business away from selling short stories,novellas, and novels. Run by Thea James and Ana Grilo, Book Smugglers was founded in 2014 and had released a number of highly regarded books over the years. According to the statement released by James and Grilo — who essentially do all the work at Book Smugglers, including reading submissions, editing manuscripts,and publishing and promoting their books — they have decided to focus instead on Book Smuggler’s strengths as a website and as a publisher of short fiction.