Thursday, February 08, 2007

Editor Jane Johnson, 2005:
Called it on Temeraire & Offered
Gloomy News For Future Writers of SF

This is from a 2005 interview with editor Jane Johnson (HarperCollins):

You helped launch Voyager in 1995 and today it is one of the most profitable Science Fiction and Fantasy imprints in the world. What kind of changes have you seen Voyager experience over the past decade, and where do you see the imprint going?

The problem with publishing in the genre at the moment, and it is a problem, in the UK at least, is that as publishers we are not driving the market, we are unable to shape our destinies and those of our authors. Over the past few years we have found ourselves at the mercy of a book trade which has focused exclusively on high initial turnover and short-term profits (the genre has traditionally worked as a long lived backlist, word-of-mouth area: so that hits us hard); a book trade moreover, in which the power resides in the hands of a very few (who therefore have no time to read, and when they are reading it's rarely fantasy or SF). It's incredibly hard to launch successful new writers in this field at the moment, and that's deeply frustrating. So much of what we are doing at the moment is concentrating on our deep well of fine talent and doing our best to maximize sales for the authors we have. But every so often a truly extraordinary book will come along and we will get behind it with every ounce of effort and expenditure we can muster: Naomi Novik's Temeraire is our future shining star. Authors like her can change the entire shape of the genre, and the list -- as we have found with Robin Hobb and George R.R. Martin.

Novik is now a shining star, as predicted, and TEMERAIRE has sold oodles, not to mention that the books have been optioned by Peter Jackson for possible future films.

I wonder who's the next star?

Read the entire 2005 interview here.

I'm burned out on dragons, so I won't be reading TEMERAIRE any time soon, however, I welcome comments from folks who want to persuade me otherise.

And her comments reminded me of some discussions we had in the CSF community about how we really, really need a mega-breakout SF novel in the CBA to shake things up for the positive. Still hoping for that, too...

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