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Category Archives: SFWA
A few days ago Steven Barnes, Maurice Broaddus, Tananarive Due, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tonya Liburd, and Nisi Shawl were kind enough to let me record their conversation about Fireside Fiction’s reports on blacks in speculative fiction. The discussion centered specifically on what SFWA can learn from the report in order to improve/expand existing efforts as well as things it should or shouldn’t be doing.
In part one of this series, I talked about the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writes of America (SFWA) prior to the move to bring in the independent writers. This section will discuss the decision and the process, as well as some of the reactions. My sources in putting all of this together are my own faulty memory, my personal notes, and the Internet. The discussion of the indie admission took place in a number of venues, including e-mails, blog articles and comments, social media, and the SFWA discussion forums. In drawing on the latter, I have tried to ensure that I did not violate their confidentiality rules, quoting only with permission.
Nomenclature has varied, but when I refer to independently published writers, that is the same group that others have used self-published, self-pubbed, indie, and other terms to describe. Self-publishing has been conflated with vanity publishing in the past; I believe them two distinct things.
As part of a Twitter conversation, one of my favorite gamewriters, Ken St. Andre, suggested I write up something about SFWA and independent writers that goes into enough detail that people can understand why — or why not — they might want to join. This is part one of a multi-part series that will talk about some of the history behind the decision, and in this first part I want to talk about the organization prior to admitting independent writers. Part two will discuss how SFWA came to change membership criteria in order to make it possible for people to qualify for membership with indie sales in 2016, and some of the changes made as part of planning for that expansion. Part three will focus on how SFWA has changed in the intervening time, while part four will look at what I see as the changes that will continue as we move forward over the next decade. In all of this, I’m trying to provide something of an insider’s look that may or may not be useful, but certainly will be full of many words.
I got back late last night, after a trip back that included a lost reservation, my luggage being overweight (how could that be? oh, look at all those books) so I had to repack a bit at the counter under the check-in agent’s impatient gaze, and the poor kid beside me throwing up steadily all the way from PIT to IAD. It’s always weird, the day after travel, because one feels as though you’ve been simultaneously on vacation and yet working harder than most days.
I cannot begin to enumerate all the ways that weekend was wonderful. It was a great joy to see months and months of planning finally bear fruit and now we can relax for at least a couple days before thinking about next year. The programming was, in my opinion, outstanding. My only quarrel would be that there was so much good stuff that I could not get to every panel I wanted to, and that I could not spend enough time with the fabulous SFWA events team of Kate Baker, Terra LeMay, and Steven H Silver, who are responsible for everything that was wonderful.
One of the challenges for the Programming Team, led by Mary Robinette Kowal, was making sure the programming had something for all writers, whether they were tradpub, small press, indie, or hybrid. There were so many terrific, in-depth panels, including a wealth of shadow programming additions and office hours with writers and other publishing professionals. It made me think back to a Nebula from several years when I was on a lackadaisical panel about writers block that was, I think, so much less useful than it could have been and realize just how far the Nebula Conference has come from the days of “let’s all get together in a hotel and hand out the awards and then drink a lot.”
Okay, let me start here: One of the best parts of being SFWA President or Vice President is that you get to be one of the people calling the Nebula nominees to tell them what’s up. This is a lot of fun because giving people good news is almost always a terrific experience. I’ve ever gotten to call former students on occasion, and thought my heart would burst from joy, because that is a terrific feeling.
This year I woke on February 16, the day we would be making the calls, to find a message from our Nebula Awards Commissioner asking me to give her a call. I did, and she presented me with news that both delighted and horrified me, that my novelette, “Red in Tooth and Cog,” was on the ballot.
I am running for SFWA President again. Here is my platform statement. Dear SFWA members: I think a proven track record’s a pretty good credential for the Presidential position, and so I propose you let me steer for another couple … Continue reading
If you’re not familiar with SFWA’s official statement on Galaktika, here it is. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation overall, here is A.G. Carpenter’s write-up and here is Bence Pinter’s Hungarian article.
The SFWA statement is the result of a lot of work behind the scenes on the part of SFWA’s Grievance Committee, and I’d like to use this opportunity to both thank that committee and explain why it’s one of the answers to “why should I join SFWA?” (There are, in my opinion, a number of others.)
Like many folks, I read the Fireside Fiction report with dismay and anger, but not a lot of surprise. We’ve been talking on the SFWA Board about the findings this past week.
What can SFWA do about it? I could go in full guns blazing and demand that every editor involved in the situation resign and threaten to take markets off the Qualified List if they don’t shape up immediately. This action would, however, probably get nipped in the bud the minute I proposed it to the rest of the board. As I’ve noted before, SFWA is slow and hard to steer. Enforcement on this level is also difficult and impractical, I think, because this selection doesn’t usually happen in the open or in an overt way.