Today, Tor.com announced the launch of a new imprint, called, appropriately, The Imprint, dedicated to publishing “novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words).” This is in addition to their award-winning library of short stories, and aims to further identify Tor.com as one of the leading short fiction (and, now, mid-range fiction) venues in SFF publishing. This is exciting and encouraging for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, more short fiction from a pro-paying market. Second, a glimpse at what the future of “traditional” publishing might hold.
Fritz Foy and Irene Gallo, will continue in their positions of Publisher and Associate Publisher of Tor.com, while Carl Engle-Laird is moving into the role of editorial assistant. Tor.com is also in the hunt for a senior editor, publicity manager, marketing manager, and designer. (Worry not, faithful readers! I’m starting my campaign trail right now.)
Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tom Doherty Associates LLC, said, “The Tor.com imprint will allow authors to cater to ebook and mobile readers by releasing a short form that in turn promotes awareness of that author’s books on the shelf. Release windows for ebook novellas are more flexible, and the length of the story strengthens the options that authors both new and experienced have in getting their fiction to the market.”
The official blog post has early details about delivery of these new publications, which will be mostly digital:
Each DRM-free title will be available exclusively for purchase, unlike the current fiction that is offered for free on the site, and will have full publisher support behind it. It will have a heavy digital focus but all titles will be available via POD and audio formats. We will also consider traditional print publishing for a select number of titles a year. All titles will be available worldwide.
The Tor.com imprint was ostensibly created to create a new professional market for short stories that are caught in limbo between the short fiction and novel markets, which is a noble cause, but there’s certainly more to the imprint than creating a professional market for novellas. It’s also a test bed for Tor.com, and their mothership, Macmillan, to explore the brave new publishing world that is forming around the industry. As self-publishing is becoming a powerhouse, even the traditional publishers, like Tor Books/Macmillan, have to consider their own avenues for getting out from under the thumb of their gatekeepers: Amazon.com.
We are looking forward to creating a program with a fresh, start-up mentality, but with the rich legacy of Tor Books and Tor.com behind us.
Where self-publishing generally sees authors taking authority and control over their property away from the traditional publishers, self-publishing, in this sense, is about the traditional publishers reacquiring control over their assets and business from Amazon.com, in the wake of the latest controversy. The mega-retailer, who has recently create their own publishing imprints that directly compete with publishers like Macmillan, is putting uncomfortable pressure on publishers to bend to the will of their heavy demands, which cost publishers and authors money, and, in the long-term, cost readers access to books that don’t go through the Amazon system.
“We have worked hard to ensure that our contracts are as streamlined and author-friendly as possible, and will only include rights that can be immediately utilized by the authors,” said the Tor.com editorial staff in the official post about the new imprint. “Authors will be offered the option of receiving a traditional advance against net earnings or higher rates with no advance. Royalties for all formats will be based on net publisher receipts with no hidden deductions and will be paid quarterly.”
Tor.com has been at the forefront of publishing author- and reader-friendly short fiction. Most notably with the launch of their DRM-free eBook store in 2012. Tor also pays above average rates ($0.25/per word, rather than $0.05/word) for short fiction. By launching this new imprint, Tor.com will have an opportunity to freely introduce their customers to new authors, new delivery and pricing methods, and experiment with the many opportunities that have opened up to publishers in the past several years.
“In short,” said the Tor.com editorial staff, “we are using this opportunity to reevaluate every step of the publishing process and are looking forward to creating a program with a fresh, start-up mentality, but with the rich legacy of Tor Books and Tor.com behind us.”