Author Topic: Houses on the Borderland  (Read 26144 times)

Martin Roberts

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #30 on: March 03, 2009, 06:57:13 pm »
Stephen has touched upon the problem with Houses... the people responsible for its publication all stood down upon its release, Paul was the commissioning editor and Dave Sutton edited it.

Helen and I inherited the mailing for the members copies etc. and turned around as soon as we returned from FantasyCon, where it did not sell very well even though many contributors were in attendance.

With Dave Sutton also unable to attend, it was awkward to make a fuss about.

Helen and I noticed that the mailing list needs updating, which has been brought to Guy's attention, when we posted the Jan mailing which was technically our first.

On a similar theme does anyone have a decent contact at SFX? As I've been plugging away at getting their attention, even offering signed Dave McKean artwork as a sweetener!

Special publications, judging from the stock levels I have that stretch back to the nineties, always seem to die a death after the members copies go out... I'm guessing there are exceptions to the rule and I believe this is one area that Guy is addressing.

There's also the problem that many stores have closed down, and the discounts demanded by others are very high. In the past venues like SHOCKLINES would buy in copies and advertise them via mailing lists. I know Paul asked me if he'd missed any potential outlets when he was in charge, and we'd often compare notes.

Offline CarolineC

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #31 on: March 03, 2009, 07:33:37 pm »
Special publications, judging from the stock levels I have that stretch back to the nineties, always seem to die a death after the members copies go out...
That sounds like you really do need a dedicated marketing bod, somebody to plug these things, make the contacts to send out review copies to, etc.
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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #32 on: March 03, 2009, 11:26:36 pm »
Special Publications is an odd kettle of fish, because in theory it's an independent publisher - but it's one that has had a guaranteed income because the BFS has always bought a copy of each book for its members. So it can keep ticking over regardless of external sales - looked at that way, Houses on the Borderland sold over 300 copies in its first week, which isn't too bad.

I've said before that my feeling is that we shouldn't even consider distributing future books to bookshops ourselves. It's a logistical and administrative nightmare, too much work for too little benefit, and totally pointless when somewhere like Lulu or Lightning Source can handle all that stuff much more efficiently than we ever can, and only charge us something like a quid a copy for the trouble.

But those are decisions just for Guy, as the guy (literally) running Special Publications. I don't think the BFS as a whole should get too sidetracked by the specific problems of Special Publications (though of course the writers involved should kick up a fuss if something is wrong). It's a sideline of the society rather than its main raison d'etre. If the books need to be marketed better that's really an issue for the SP editor, who could recruit people to help out on that front, in the same way Lee recruits section editors for Prism or I have to find writers for Dark Horizons.

If someone wants to volunteer as a marketing bod for Special Pubs I doubt Guy would turn up his nose at them. But I reckon the main things needed are (i) an up-to-date mailing list of reviewers, (ii) timely announcements on the website, (iii) good communication with the authors involved and (iv) getting things out on schedule. Guy will be able to do all those things on his own - I don't know how much a dedicated marketing bod, if there was actually someone who wanted to do the job, would add to that.

As far as the older books go, I don't think marketing is really the issue. There just isn't a massive demand for them; what demand there is can largely be served by eBay, a stall at FantasyCon and an ordering sheet in the BFS mailing. Somebody could put hours into selling a few extra copies here and there, but how much would that benefit the members of the society?

A review list is certainly something we could work on - actually, I've been thinking for a while that maybe we should host a list of potential reviewers somewhere on the site for everyone to use, given how many enquiries we get about it. I'll start a thread...

Offline Jen

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #33 on: March 04, 2009, 07:25:59 am »

Special publications, judging from the stock levels I have that stretch back to the nineties, always seem to die a death after the members copies go out... I'm guessing there are exceptions to the rule and I believe this is one area that Guy is addressing.

From what I remember, the publications that do well, once you're past members copies, tend to be the single author specific ones like the Graham Masterton one and the Michael Moorcock one and the Clive Barker one.  The Masterton sold 500 copies on top of the members copies and we sold the foreign rights to it for a Polish edition too.  The Moorcock sold so fast that we printed an extra 150 copies and sold out of those quite quickly too.   The Barker sold about 725 copies after members copies.
And it helped that young Mr Howe put a scary amount of time and work in to sorting out publicity and distributors and the like...  I'm fairly sure he's got clones lurking about his house somewhere.  Or he's a robot...   ;) :-*

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #34 on: March 04, 2009, 08:56:43 am »
Wow - I had no idea they'd sold so many. Maybe it is worth the extra work!

Offline Jen

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2009, 10:13:54 am »
Wow - I had no idea they'd sold so many. Maybe it is worth the extra work!

If it's the right book, then it is, I think.   Of course, then you have to find the right book...   We never had much luck with short story collections or anthologies but the non fiction generally went down well.
I think at one point we had considered specialising in non fiction as other small presses were doing anthos and collections so we were looking for that perfect niche to publish in.

BFS E-books would be a cool thing.  Or maybe a PDF e-book showcase sampler antho thingy with extracts of the work of published authors who are BFS peeps.  And if it was available for free on the website to all and sundry, then you'd get publicity for the authors as well as the BFS.  (And before we get into the paper vs. digital debate...  ;D ... I like paper books, but I also like downloading free PDF books from publisher and author websites for a taste of new things...)   

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2009, 05:28:24 pm »

(And before we get into the paper vs. digital debate...  ;D ... I like paper books, but I also like downloading free PDF books from publisher and author websites for a taste of new things...)   


That's because Jenny has a bionic eye and a USB port in the back of her neck...


Offline Jen

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #37 on: March 04, 2009, 08:57:13 pm »
 :P    ;D     :-*

Offline Tony Williams

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #38 on: April 11, 2009, 01:27:58 pm »
This is an anthology of new "tales of the macabre" by six British writers, provided free to members of the British Fantasy Society. As the title indicates, the theme of this collection is inspired by William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland. There are seven novellas, all very different in their settings and plots, but linked by the central place of a building which is (in all except one tale) rather more than it seems.

Today We Are Astronauts by Allen Ashley.  This story is the exception, in that there are no supernatural elements to the building; a remote lighthouse in a future in which humanity is being wiped out by a strange disease. A family is sent to the lighthouse together with the Mind Blocks, a virtual recreation of the minds of the great and the good, in the hope of preserving them for use once the crisis is over. However, the circumstances do strange things to the minds of the inhabitants.

The Listeners by Samantha Lee. The one traditional fairy story (of the Grimm sort) in the collection: a mercenary, travelling on horseback through a sparsely populated land, spends a night at an inn where an old man warns him about a strange house he will encounter on his journey, a house which locals in the inn say does not exist. Late the next evening, looking for shelter for the night, the horseman does indeed come across the house, and it is not what it seems. The tension is rather dissipated by the fact that the conclusion is clearly signalled part-way through the story.

The School House by Simon Bestwick. A present-day horror story about a malevolent old school and what it does to the minds of the pupils, both at the time and in their adult lives. Unsettling.

The House on the Western Border by Gary Fry. A divorcee escapes with her daughter to a remote house on the coast of Anglesey. A house which has stood empty for years and, she discovers (too late), is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of the original inhabitant. A traditional ghost story combined with a modern concern about the exploitation of the Third World.

The Retreat by Paul Finch. A late-World War 2 setting here as a small group of German soldiers, survivors of Stalingrad, try to make it home through a bleak Russian winter. Frozen, exhausted and starving they are lost in a huge wood when they stumble across a wooden hut. One which is suspiciously warm and welcoming, and is much bigger on the inside than the outside suggests. A grim and gritty tale.

The Worst of All Possible Places by David A Riley. Back to present-day Britain and the horrors of a condemned tower block of council flats in which a reluctant resident is forced to accept a place. Only to find that it is even worse than he could have imagined. Far worse…

I'm not a fan of horror fiction – I recall reading some classic tales in my teenage years some four decades ago (names such as Edgar Allan Poe, Dennis Wheatley and the anthologist August Derleth come to mind), but none since – and I can't honestly say that this collection prompts me to seek out more. Not that there is anything wrong with the stories, they just don’t reflect my taste in reading material. Still, it made in interesting change from my usual fare, with each tale being short enough to read in less than an hour, the longest being just over 60 pages. I'm due for another exposure to more classic horror soon: for reasons of nostalgia as much as anything, I couldn't resist buying the recently-published Necronomicon: the Best Weird Tales of H P Lovecraft. I've quite a few other books to get through first, so don't hold your breath.

(An extract from my SFF blog)

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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #39 on: April 16, 2010, 08:09:24 am »
Thanks for that review, Tony!

The book's also been reviewed now by Mario Guslandi on Hellnotes. Thanks, Mario!

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: Houses on the Borderland
« Reply #40 on: April 16, 2010, 08:12:57 am »
The book's also been reviewed by Colin (the reviewer formerly known as Highlander) on Tales from the Black Abyss.