On “buzz”

I’ve been thinking a little about episode 68 of the Coode Street Podcast, where amongst other things Gary, Ian and I discuss the subject of “buzz”.  As sometimes happens with podcasts, we talked around it as much as we talked about it, but I realise now that I didn’t really discuss clearly what I mean by it, or how I recognise it.

For me, I get the impression that there is buzz around someone or something when a number of unconnected positive mentions of a book come to my attention. This could be a good review on a website, a positive tweet or two, some anticipatory comments on a podcast.  It’s when the profile of something rises about the background noise or chatter that’s happening in media, social or otherwise, to the point where I become aware of it, and become aware of it in a positive sense.

An example of this is Christopher Priest’s The Islanders. Now, I know I said on the podcast that Priest generally doesn’t get much buzz, but this book is getting some. I’m pretty sure I discussed it with Paul Cornell and Al Reynolds at Worldcon. I noticed Ian McDonald tweet about it yesterday. Strange Horizons reviewed it and Adam Roberts commented (having previously reviewed it).  People are talking about it and it’s getting terrific reviews.

That’s buzz.  I don’t know if it’s the kind of buzz that adds up to sales, but it’s there.  I suspect it’s the kind of thing that drives marketing departments to distraction, primarily because it’s organic and difficult to control.

Oh, and a quick personal PS: I continue to struggle with a virus that has been kicking my ass since last week. I’m upright, but only just, so comms are slower than usual.

Episode 68: Live with Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond!!

This week Gary and I invited Ian Mond from The Writer and the Critic to join us to discuss recommending books and how buzz is generated around new or upcoming books each year.  We discuss the very welcome feedback we received on the subject before we began to ramble in earnest, going on to discuss currently overlooked writers like Thomas M. Disch, Michael Bishop and Zenna Henderson,  sport in science fiction and fantasy, the delicate balance between literature and science in hard SF, and many other things.  Gary and I would like to thank Ian for joining us, and I’d like to make it clear, personally, that I was only joking about Alisa and the knitting needles. Really :)

Some useful links following on from the podcast: Subterranean are publishing a best of Michael Bishop, and NESFA publish the collected ‘People’ stories by Zenna Henderson.


Episode 66: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!

After a sojourn due to Father’s Day, when we ran the very well received Jo Walton episode, Gary and I are are back on deck to discuss young adult science fiction, Ian McDonald, his new novel Planesrunner, Daryl Gregory and his new collection, robots and computerised houses, and a bit of waffle on the subject of Orson Scott Card and “Hamlet’s Father”. As always we hope you enjoy the podcast. See you next week!

Live and sassy

Alisa Krasnostein and I are launching a new podcast venture today. Once a month we’re going to spin the Urbanspoon dial and end up in a coffee shop somewhere around Perth where we’ll stop for a while and chat about whatever SF/F publishing stuff is on our minds at the time.

The first episode, recorded in a quietish courtyard of Nedland’s Elxir Coffee a month or two ago, is now online. We discuss ebooks, Borders and other publishing stuff. We should be recording a new episode shortly, but hope you enjoy this one!