Some publishers think technological changes in the way we read may herald the end of books. Lee Harris, editor of “SF, F and WTF?!” publishers Angry Robot Books (home to books by Dan Abnett, Andy Remic, Chuck Wendig and a host of others – my title tip is The World House by Guy Adams) says not. In this interview he explains why…
How and when did Angry Robot Books get started?
Angry Robot was founded by Marc Gascoigne in the summer of 2008 as part of HarperCollins. We published our first titles in the UK and Australia in July 2009 and in the US and Canada in September 2010.
What is the robot so upset about?
He’s not upset. He’s angry. Big difference. Pray you never find out why…
Do you think you can ever stress the importance of revision and re-drafting enough?
I think so, yes. If an author doesn’t understand the importance, they’re unlikely to get taken seriously. All pro authors realise that finishing the initial draft is only the beginning,and that if they don’t revise and redraft then the book isn’t finished…
You put out ebooks as standard – what do you say to the idea they herald the death of publishing or the end of the book?
I’d say that whoever truly believes that, doesn’t understand the first thing about publishing. People have been proclaiming the end of publishing for decades. eBooks aren’t a threat – they’re a fantastic opportunity to publishers and authors, alike. For me, the words are far more important than the delivery mechanism.
Can you tell me about the worst query you’ve ever had?
On April 1st this year we ran a (fake) story about a new imprint called “Robot Amour” – science fiction erotica. Let’s just say that not everyone realised it was a gag…
How about the best?
Too many to mention. But the best queries don’t always end up getting a book deal – they just open the door for the editor or agent to read the manuscript.
How much stuff would you typically get sent in an Open Door submission month?
Well, we’ve only done it once, and we received 994 submissions, so typically I’d estimate we get… oooh, around 994.
How important is social media and engagement to you?
Very. It’s a fantastic way for us – and for our authors – to engage with the readers. In the olden days, say 5BF (Before Facebook), there was a lot of distance between the reader and the writer, and even more between the reader and the publisher. the walls have fallen, my friend, and we’re all better off for it.
Can you tell me about World Builder, eg how/why you came up with it, what you hope to get from it?
WorldBuilder is our way of reaching out to the fan-creators – the people who read a great book and immediately want to craft something in that universe, be it a story, a piece of art, a song, or whatever. We’re taking one of our novels, initially (Adam Christopher’s Empire State) and inviting these creators to come and play in our yard. You can find out more about it at www.EmpireState.cc. And what do we hope to get from it? Well, fans engaging with our books, and showing enthusiasm for the act of creating is always a great thing to see.
You can find out more about what Angry Robot books are up to (launching a YA imprint called Strange Chemistry, frinstance) on their website and follow them on Twitter @angryrobotbooks . You can also find Lee on Twitter @LeeAHarris.