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Posts by davefreer

Super-readers and their interests

I was, thanks to Michael A Rothman pointing me at it, looking at some of the Bookbub data. Now: words of caution, these reflect largely ‘super-readers’ – people who read a lot and are therefore interested in this service. The data may not reflect the overall sales patterns at all (for example, literary fiction in absolute numbers sells less than sf –which is why I always wonder at the self-elected ‘elite’ of sf and their frantic desire to be accepted by… literary fiction.) Read more

What’s behind the words?

What’s behind the words?

It’s rather like “what’s behind the curtain?”  The answer of course may be ‘very little’ or ‘a funny little man’ (pay no attention to him. He’s a wizard, and they are irascible (if not subtle) and quick to anger, especially if you notice their trickery.) Read more

Approaching One

Imagine a game. Let’s call it ‘Ping’. Ping is easy to play, at many different levels (so both genius and not-so can play and enjoy Ping), and takes no physical effort or dexterity. There many many different games of ‘Ping’.  It is widely popular and very cheap.

Writing a game of Ping is very much harder, slower and more demanding. Many try, but perhaps one in a hundred thousand players who try writes a good popular game, popular at least with some part of the very wide audience who share their level and interests. Getting into the Ping-production and selling industry is not nearly as difficult. But your work is Ping, and if you don’t love Ping, the salaries are mediocre to bad, and there is other work available.

Now: this is a statistical exercise… how should the ‘diversity’ of Ping writers and indeed the production and selling business stack up?  Given that there are no barriers to entry for either, and the game is popular with very nearly everyone. It’s quite a broad and varied game. No-one is trying to socially engineer the diversity or anything like that. Read more

An Alternate Australia?

It was Australia day, yesterday.  Now, that happens to be celebrated on the same day of the year as the First Fleet landed the first British convict settlers at Sydney Cove, marking the start of the nation that is modern Australia. The continent was there before that, and will be long after the even memory of humans have vanished. Read more

An author to learn from

I’ve been working hard at the fine art of making myself itchy (putting ‘earthwool’ or glass-fibre insulation in the wall cavities of our home.) so I thought it had been a long day and it was time I decamped…

Well, de Camp. Lyon Sprague de Camp, 1907-2000, author of many fantasy, sf and non-fiction works. I happened to mention him to a young author I like and respect, who said he had read almost no de Camp… and I thought, sadly there are probably a lot of sf/fantasy readers and indeed writers who have never encountered de Camp’s work. That’s rather sad, not because he was the best author that ever wrote, but because there is quite a lot of value to gleaned from his work. Like Clifford Simak, the ideas are terrific – but sometimes you wish the story execution was better.
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Long time passing

By the time this post is up, by the merits of ye tyme-travail (or the international date-line which allows me to live in your future), I’ll have been on this island for a decade. Time passes, and so, sadly, do people.  I’ve lost a good friend and long ago dive partner, and science fiction is poorer for the passing of Mike Resnick. Mike was a close friend and mentor to a couple of good friends of mine, so although we personally only shared a couple of e-mails, I know a lot about him, and all of it is positive. I know: no one speaks ill of the dead, out of respect for the bereaved.  It’s the decent, considerate thing to do, because no other time is as fraught and miserable than it is for those bereaved folk.  In Mike’s case, he didn’t have to wait to be dead before anyone realized he was a good guy and one sf-fantasy’s greater champions: one of the people whose shoulders the field stands on. Read more


Correlation isn’t causation. You’d think as an ex-fisheries scientist I would have grasped that immediately, but back in the day when I was trying to work out just why some books, some authors, took off… and others withered on the vine, I got it very wrong.  I knew almost nothing about publishing back then, and assumed that it was a merit based outcome, dependent purely on the quality and appeal of the book.

That led to a lot of spurious correlations in my analysis… because especially in Trad publishing factors beyond the merits of the book are substantial, and way out of control of the author. Besides it’s a very, very complicated fishery. We don’t all attract or capture readers in the same way, even if quite a lot are snagged by the wallet. Read more