Today’s Follow Friday features novelist and comic writer Paul Cornell.
“Paul Cornell is a writer of science fiction and fantasy in prose, comics and TV, one of only two people to be Hugo Award-nominated for all three media. He’s written Doctor Who for the BBC, Action Comics for DC, and Wolverine for Marvel. He’s won the BSFA Award for his short fiction, an Eagle Award for his comics, and shares in a Writer’s Guild Award for his television.
His latest urban fantasy novel is The Severed Streets from Tor. He lives in Gloucestershire with his wife and son.”
Paul is a regular at our local Sci-fi and Fantasy con, Bristol Con, which took place last weekend. We got a chance to hear Paul talk about his books during a great panel on the cross over between crime and Sci-fi/fantasy; an area of fiction he knows a lot about! Paul’s current series, the Shadow Police, pits London detective James Quill and team against a supernatural underworld they are unaware of and unequipped to deal with. The series starts with “London Falling” and continues in “The Severed Streets”.
Follow Friday is our weekly featurette where we highlight people and sites we think are worth following. Take a look at our past suggestions here.
Today’s Follow Friday features our friends and partners, horror comic publishers Hellbound Media.
Founders Mark Adams and Matt Warner are both also part of TGE and regularly contribute comics to the site.
They write most of their titles between them and draw on a network of talented illustrators to bring them to life. Their titles include action horror series Kiss Me Deadly and Faith Healers (currently serialised on TGE), the bestiality slasher fest Slaughterhouse Farm, and adventure horror Mandy and the Monster.
Monster hunter Mandy, who protects children from the monsters under the bed or in the closet, will soon be getting her own anthology of short stories! Mandy: Book of Monsters is currently funding on Kickstarter, so make sure you pop by and reserve a copy. If you’ve not encountered Mandy before, you can read a short Mandy comic and short story here on The Great Escape!
HBM have a great track record of compiling anthology comics. Their Shock Value horror anthology series is now on it’s third volume and has branched out to include illustrated short fiction as well as traditional comic stories.
This weekend they’ll be at MCM Scotland in Glasgow for the first time, so be sure to stop by their table to check out their comics. You can also ask them about Mandy: Book of Monsters and how you can support it through Kickstarter.
You can read more about Hellbound Media and order comics through their website. Like their Facebook page (/hellboundmedia) for news about upcoming releases, comic con photos and more, or follow them on Twitter (@HellboundMedia).
This Saturday, the 26th of September, we’ll be attending the BristolCon Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, which is at the DoubleTree Hotel on Redcliffe Way in Bristol.
Now in its seventh year, BristolCon is run by the Bristol SciFi and Fantasy Society, and focuses more on the literature and art aspects of the speculative genres than other conventions on the matter.
With a crammed programme of panels and discussions across three rooms, plus a packed dealers room, we expect it to be a fantastic event!
In addition, The Great Escape Breakout team will be in attendance, where we hope to be recording a special episode at the convention.
Tickets to the con for non-members are £25 in advance, but that price does include a full year of membership to the Bristol Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society.
In addition, the BristolSFF Society runs a whole host of other events throughout the year, which non-members can come along to.
You can find out more about BristolCon at their website, www.bristolcon.org, and find out more about the Bristol Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/15795356978/.
Today’s Follow Friday recommendation is the Clevedon Tides Festival, our very own local festival of arts, community and the sea here in Clevedon, North Somerset.
The festival began back in 2005 as a fundraising initiative by Marlens, the group responsible for the restoration and preservation of Clevedon’s beautiful Victorian Marine lake. Now in it’s 10th year, the Tides festival has grown in size and scope to become the highlight of the year in our small town.
This year the festival will include two venues of live music, outdoor art displays, fireworks and water sports. A drive in cinema, in association with Clevedon’s historic community cinema, The Curzon, will be showing “Grease” at Salthouse Fields tonight at 8pm and The Curzon itself will be screening films all weekend, including new Disney-Pixar hit “Inside Out”.
Clevedon’s independent book shops will be getting in on the festival action. The Clevedon Community Bookshop on Copse Road will be hosting workshops on its “Writing on the Lake” anthology project, and Books on the Hill will have Pirate themed story telling on Sunday Afternoon.
To finish off our month of Podcast recommendations, today our Follow Friday recommendation is CreatureGeek, the ‘Monster Makeup Show for Fans and Pros’.
Led by special effects maestro Frank Ippolito and artist/illustrator Len Peralta, and presented by the team behind Jamie & Adam Tested, CreatureGeek is a show packed with discussion, hints and tips and interviews from the people behind some of the greatest practical special effects in cinema history.
Discussing topics as diverse as the history of some famous names in special FX, animatonics, thoughts on CGI-augmented practical effects, the best make-up effects currently in film and TV, and much more, this podcast is a wealth of interesting tidbits and hints for anyone interested in the art of make-up and effects.
Previous guests on the show include Rick Lazzarini of The Character Shop, Matt Winston of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, Michele Burke, Bill Moseley, Shannon Shea, Jim Eustermann, Todd Masters of MastersFX and many more.
Whilst they are currently between seasons, there are still hours and hours of listening to be had, with each episode on around 45 minutes long.
You can find CreatureGeek, along with many other podcasts (including our own) on Podbay.fm – a podcast aggregator which collects together reviews, stats and more to help you find your next podcast. In addition, they offer apps for both Android and iOS so you can listen to podcasts on the go!
Congratulations to Jamie Gibbs for winning our TGE Breakout t-shirt giveaway! Your brand new t-shirt will be wending it’s way to you very soon.
There’s a brand new special episode of TGE Breakout available today, featuring interviews from Melksham Comic Con. We chatted to the organisers and indie exhibitors about the con, their content, and their thoughts about bees.
The next main episode of TGE Breakout will be available on Wednesday 16th September. This fourth episode, featuring special guest Marley Hamilton, looks at the debate over working for free in the indie film industry.
It’s almost September, and whilst the summer is winding down there are still plenty of events happening around the country. Here’s our top picks:
Raindance Film Festival, London. Wednesday, September 23 – Sunday, October 4, 2015: http://raindancefestival.org/
Now in its 23rd year, Raindance is the British film festival for independent film. With a programme jam-packed with feature films, shorts, music videos and even web series, Raindance is always an event worth waiting for!
Encounters Bristol International Film Festival, Bristol. 15th-20th September 2015: http://encounters-festival.org.uk/
We may have never managed to be shortlisted whenever we’ve submitted a short, but this hasn’t stopped us shortlisting one of the biggest names in short film and animation festivals.
Filminute – The International One-Minute Film Festival, 1st-30th September 2015, Worldwide
A virtual festival of ultra-short films, filminute is a rapidly growing event that always provide a whole different level of storytelling.
The Festival of Writing, 2015, York. 4th-6th September 2015: http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/FestivalofWriting2015.html
Filled with loads of how-to courses and workshops taught by writers, publishing professionals and agents, this festival is dedicated to improving your writing, as well as providing the ability to meet with agents, authors and publishers.
Wakefield Lit Fest, Wakefield. 18th-27th September 2015: http://www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk/
Taking place around the city of Wakefield, the Lit Fest is awash with community-led events including readings, workshops, performances, music and more, as well as events run by associated organisations.
Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film and Music, Woodstock, Oxford: 24th-27th September 2015: http://blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com/
A major event in the media calendar, the Blenheim Palace Festival has featured some big names in the past, including Philip Pullman, Roger McGough, Richard Dawkins, Julian Fellowes, and many more. This year expects to be just as grand.
International Comics Expo, The Studio, Canon Street, Birmingham. 5th September 2015. https://internationlcomicexpo.wordpress.com/
Featuring an ‘astonishing programme of panels, talks and interviews running throughout the day’, ICE is a always a welcome addition to the comic convention calendar!
ComicCity Festival, Londonderry. 12th-13th September 2015. http://www.comiccityfestival.com/
With free entry and top artists and writers from around the world in attendance, ComicCity is filled to the brim with top talent from the realms of comic and the creative arts.
NICE 2015, Bedford, 19th-20th September 2015: http://nicecon.co.uk/
Back for their 4th year, this two-day event at the Bedford Blues Rugby Ground features UK exclusive appearances from Gene Ha, Paul Renaud and Brian K Vaughan as well as many other very talented individuals from the major and independent comics scene.
In addition, The Great Escape will be appearing at BristolCon 2015 on Saturday the 26th of September 2015.
BristolCon is the annual event run by the Bristol Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society to promote speculative fiction, art and more. Always a very friendly and intimate event and playing host to panels, workshops and kaffeclatches, we have been doing this convention for several years now and always make it part of our events calendar.
This year, BristolCon will be at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bristol, so if you’re coming along please visit us in the trader’s room!
You can find out more about BristolCon at http://www.bristolcon.org/.
Continuing our podcast themed Follow Fridays for August, today we’re recommending Reasonably Sound with Mike Rugnetta!
Running for just under a year, Reasonably Sound is a podcast celebrating complexities and awesomeness of audio, alongside the world surrounding noise. Not just for audiophiles, it is a self-proclaimed guide to the world of sound.
Covering such wide-ranging topics as why fireworks sound the way they do, subliminal messages, accents, why ASMR videos are so popular and the ‘sound’ of onomatopoeia in comics, the podcast hopes to make the idea of sound interesting to all, not just “sound people”.
“So many of us listen to music and (hopefully) podcasts, we use our ears every day, but our visual sense is much more developed and attuned to the world” says Mike.
The episodes vary in length between 20 and 50 minutes, and are perfect for those who have an interest in the ‘art’ and ‘substance’ of sound.
You can find Reasonably Sound, along with many other podcasts (including our own) on Podbay.fm – a podcast aggregator which collects together reviews, stats and more to help you find your next podcast. In addition, they offer apps for both Android and iOS so you can listen to podcasts on the go!
Last month the self-publishing community had a little freak out over Amazon’s new payment model for books borrowed through its Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library schemes. The initial backlash was disproportionate, due mainly to media outlets failing (accidentally on purpose?) to make clear that it only applied to lending and not retail. Once that was cleared up, attention turned to the implications of the change.
Put simply, Amazon moved from a model based on the number of downloads, to one based on the number of pages read.
It’s worth noting that the original model did require the reader to open the book and read 10% of the way into the book before it counted for payment, but, after that point, the author got the full payment.
It favoured shorter books for two reasons; firstly, the payment received was not proportional to the length of the work, and secondly, hitting the 10% trigger point was easier and more likely.
The new model attempts to proportionately reward authors of different length works by paying them per page. Thus a longer book will be worth more than a shorter one, provided the reader slogs their way to the end. Because authors are only paid for the pages read, it in theory also rewards quality over quantity.
The issues that this change raised fell into four broad themes:
Complaints from those who publish with Amazon focused on the idea of penalising the writer if the reader fails to complete the book. There were a lot of analogies about cake and burgers and other things it would be ridiculous to pay for based on the proportion consumed.
Those whose approach is to work the system for as much profit as possible may very well fall foul of this new model. Using cheap marketing tactics to pitch a lot of quickly-written, mediocre books to a broad, vague market in order to get as many sales (or loans) as possible would no longer be a profitable strategy.
But, for writers passionate about their art, creating stories that engage people and hold their attention to the end is the goal anyway, isn’t it? It’s true, not every book will be right for everyone, but you’d like to think, that if you’re getting the marketing right, you’re targeting the people who will like it. If a small proportion don’t stick it out that’s not the end of the world.
It’s true that a lot of people buy and/or download books they want to read but then don’t get round to them, but this is about loans and subscription services; by definition people use these to choose something from those available to start reading there and then. Of course, I may be underestimating the number of people who stop reading books once they have started them. It’s not something I tend to do… which is the subject of my blog this week.
Is proportional consumption is a fair way to judge the worth of a piece of content at all? People seem to struggle with assigning value to digital content at the best of times. As mentioned in April’s Fiction News, authors often feel pressured into giving their work away for free because consumers are so reluctant to pay for digital content.
As we discussed in Episode 3 of Breakout on crowdfunding, subscription models in general appeal to those consumers who want as much for their money as possible. Once you’ve paid the subscription fee you then experience the illusion that the content is free.
From the consumer perspective the mechanism by which the content producer is paid is irrelevant, so it’s hard to say what effect the pay per page model will have on the stripping of value that is the hallmark of current trends.
People are inclined towards a certain moral outrage about the idea of profitability shaping art, but it always does and always will.
Jump back a decade or so to before the onset of digital publishing and the landscape was very different. Between short story and novel was a wide trench of unpublishable lengths. Getting your book out there meant getting it into book shops which meant writing what publishers wanted, not necessarily what you wanted to write.
What influences could a pay per page model have have on the choices writer’s make?
For one it could put writer’s off short fiction; the format which has seen a new resurgence recently. As mentioned above, Amazon’s old model favoured short books, and encouraged authors to churn out as many short titles as they could. It lead to a pattern of authors publishing serialised “chapter-books” less than 10k words in length, in order to take advantage of the system. Indeed it was in response to complaints about this that they introduced the new system to make things fairer.
Clearly this new system is hardly shaping writers choices more than it’s predecessor. But, the removal of an incentive doesn’t necessarily mean the creation of a disincentive.
The advent of digital publishing removed many of the divides between creativity and profitability by making a wider choice of formats, genres and topics viable. This is still the case, regardless of whether royalties are paid per page or per download.
Secondly the pay per page model potentially discriminates against more challenging literary fiction. Evidence suggests readers are less likely to get through a challenging literary work than an easier genre read. This might put writers off writing powerful literature in favour of the fiction equivalent of click bait; fast paced pulp fiction with high entertainment value but less in the way of literary merit.
This is a serious concern, because this suggests the pay per page model could and would stifle the top end of the fiction spectrum. But, let’s keep this in perspective; we’re talking about one retailer and one platform here.
Amazon is a true giant in the world of books, especially digital books. The policies they make can have a massive influence over the market, but they are not the only controlling factor out there.
There was the initial fear that Amazon intended to apply this pay per page model to retail of books, and that fear is still there; what if they did decide to roll out this model to retail books?
If they did choose to do so, the reader would have to be charged proportionately, which would be a logistical nightmare for Amazon, and they too would be loosing a lot of money. If Amazon took the full payment for the book at purchase but only passed on the royalties when or if it the book was read there would be major uproar. I doubt even the readers would let them get away with that; no one likes the idea of the corporate giant taking all the profit and refusing the pass it on to the artist.
The idea of pay per page for individual retail sales is impractical and highly unlikely. However that doesn’t rule out the idea of Amazon switching to a purely subscription model for Kindle, following the trend in TV and music. I still think this is unlikely, but far more possible.
Are you a book lover, either as a writer, reader or both? What are your thoughts on Amazon’s new model? Leave a comment below or drop us an email using our Contact Form.
Read more about this issue:
“Amazon’s ‘pay-per-page’ plan could alter writing as well as royalties”
Continuing our podcast themed Follow Fridays for August, today we’re recommending The Awesome Comics Podcast!
New on the podcast scene (epidode 1 came out in July), The Awesome Comics Podcast charts the quest of Vince Hunt (The Red Mask From Mars), Dan Butcher (Vanguard) and Tony Esmond (Down the Tubes) “to make a big noise of small press comics and have a good laugh while they do it!”
They’ve already put out six episodes. with guests including Tom Ward (Writer: The Sensational Elephant Man), Marc Laming (Artist: Planet Hulk, Kings Watch), Chris Wildgoose (Artist: Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale) and Jon Lock (Creator: Afterlife Inc).
Their episodes are long, averaging out at about 1hr 40mins, so you might want to save them for a long drive or nibble at them in a few chunks, but they are packed full of indie comics news and recommendations, and even advice for small press comic creators.