Nominated for a Hugo Award, METAtropolis is an audio book anthology, featuring some of the biggest names in Science Fiction (and the blogosphere) today – Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear and Karl Schroeder.

From Scalzi’s blog:

The folks at are very excited that METAtropolis has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form — it’s that whole “hey, we’re breaking ground by being the first audiobook nominated for a Hugo” thing. The Audible folks are also aware that when you’re an audiobook up against The Dark Knight, Wall*E, Hellboy II and Iron Man, which combined brought in a couple billion in worldwide box office, you’re sort of the underdog, aren’t you.

So Audible decided to help even the odds by offering up METAtropolis for free, for a limited time. Go to the page I just linked to, sign up for Audible if you haven’t already done so, and then get your personal copy of the world that Elizabeth Bear, Toby Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder and I have imagined (and which Michael Hogan, Scott Brick, Kandyse McClure, Alessandro Juliani and Stefan Rudnicki perform for you as narrators)


You can download a free copy of METAtropolis HERE. But hurry, it’s only available for a short time. You’ll also need to be a resident of North America and have an audible account (which are also free, so just sign up for one).

A few weeks ago, several agents took part in #queryfail day – a twitter-driven campaign that saw the agents revealing some of the worst queries (book proposals from authors) they had received.

“Like my protagonist, I definitely could be described as overachiever, and I naturally have hair like Lady Godiva.” #queryfail

Diana Fox

Here’s a big #queryfail: Telling me that U need your book to be published in 6 months. Nope. If you need it that quickly, then self-publish

Greg Daniel

And one of the best:

I have been queried via email by a man writing as [redacted], whose email ID says [redacted]–so I’m not really sure who he actually is. He has queried me at least once a month since November for an adult historical novel–the same novel in every query.

In November and December I sent him form rejections, which state clearly that I only represent children’s books and outline my submission policy. After that, I just deleted his inquiries.

I just got another, and this time I sent him a firm reply asking him to remove me from his email list and stating how many times I’d heard from him already.

This is what I got back:

“I know you would like to be left alone. But you are a literary agent, and I have a job to do. And I do apologize for any future queries that you must receive.

“But until [my novel] is published, you will be queried.”

Editorial Anonymous

I thought it was all pretty funny (and a hell of a learning experience for when I finally start querying agents and publishers), but it certainly did seem like the agents weren’t aware that their shit stinks just as much as the rest of us.

Some people, apparently, failed to see the humour in all of it.

[W]hen agent Jessica Faust decided to give writers a forum for their fury, asking for examples of agents failing authors, she was greeted with an outpouring of bile from hundreds of writers that went on for days.

“Take yourselves off the pedastals [sic] you stand on and stop acting like we should feel privileged that you allow us to bow and scrape to gain your attention. Without us, you would have no product to sell, therefore no income. To say it very plainly, without us you are nothing,” posted one frustrated writer (anonymously – it was interesting that, probably fearful their complaints could make it harder to get book deals, almost all of the commentators posted anonymously). “Reply with more than one freaking line via email that says something like, ‘I didn’t really care for the male characters’. I mean, a rejection is OK, but, after all that time (and $$$ in postage for 300 plus pages!!!), I thought I deserved a bit more. i won’t be querying her again,” wrote another.

Writers were most upset by the lack of response from agents (“It takes months if not years to write a novel…and what… a whole twenty seconds to send a rejection form letter?” wrote Evenstarr1); many weren’t asking for a personalised response, just the acknowledgement that their submission had been received, which seems fair enough.

But I couldn’t take seriously the complaints of two writers who were cross about having to write quality query letters (“please stop acting like they are the most important part of a submission. It’s advertising copy – and no guarantee that the author can pen a solid 100,000 word book,” said one, while the other argued that “just because we cant write a good query letter doesn’t mean we cant write a good book”). You’ve spent months, probably years, on your manuscript – it’s worth taking the time to make sure it gets the best chance of being read.


Uh… lighten up, people? Besides, it’s not like they don’t also point out the good stuff. Colleen Lindsay (who spearheaded #queryfail day) recently posted this on her twitter:

A (non-Fineprint) agent colleague just forwarded me an amazing query, and I had to request the manuscript. (Yes, we do all talk about you.)

The other agent knew I’d fall in love with the writing. And she was right!

So, uh, the lesson learned is that, if you’re serious about getting published, don’t write a shitty query. Could the agents have been a bit more tactful? Maybe. But the simple fact is that if you don’t follow the rules, if you’re arrogant, if you’re inarticulate, if you’re trying to completely rip off another author, you’re probably going to get laughed at. If you write a good, honest query about a well-written novel, you’re probably going to be taken seriously. The power’s in the hands on the writer, so what’s all the bellyaching about?

Learn to love #queryfail, because it’ll be your best friend when it’s time to get your own manuscript into the hands of the right people. Now, how about we see a #querywin, a glimpse at some of the best queries out there?

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton

Nights of Villjamur

AuthorMark Charan Newton

Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor (UK)
Release Date: June 5, 2009
ISBN-10: 0230712584
ISBN-13: 978-0230712584

Mark Charan Newton wears his influences on his sleeve, boldly name-dropping the likes of M. John Harrison, China Miéville and Gene Wolfe as driving forces behind his first novel, Nights of Villjamur. But where does that leave me, a self-professed anti-snob – a fan of Terry Brooks and John Scalzi, shy of those more literary works of fantasy, even downright terrified (if forced to be honest)? This was a question I asked myself as I cracked open Newton’s first novel, and I’ll admit I was afraid of the answer.
Read More »

From SFScope:

Tad Williams sold a new urban fantasy series to long-time editor Betsy Wollheim at DAW, via agent Matt Bialer of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

Bialer’s assistant, Lindsay Ribar, says that “as this is his first urban fantasy series, each book will be significantly shorter than his usual epic fantasy fare.”

In the series, “Doloriel is an angel. He doesn’t know who he used to be back on Earth, but now he works as an afterlife investigator for the Heavenly Host, making sure the souls being judged haven’t inflated their claims. It’s a minor job, but a cool one, since it means he often gets to go back to Earth to investigate, wearing a body and calling himself Bobby Dollar—or Bobby D. Doloriel’s latest assignment as Bobby D is supposed to be routine: figure out what happened to a recently disappeared soul, finish the paperwork, and make it look good for the folks upstairs. But a series of not-so-coincidental encounters—including one with a terribly attractive demon named Sennaie—makes him sure that there’s more at stake here than one missing soul.

“Knowing that he’s in over his head, Bobby D tries to pull out, but his bosses won’t let him. Somehow, his identity—more specifically, his identity from his former life back on Earth—is the key to the entire mystery, and he has to find out who he was before he becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of power that could end in the destruction of the entire human race.”

Working titles for the books seem to be SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGMENT DAY, HAPPY HOUR IN HELL, and ANGELS RUSH IN.

Tad Williams’ first stab at Urban Fantasy, The War of the Flowers, is one of my favourite novels and had a huge impact on me as a writer. To say I’m excited about this upcoming series would be an understatement.