Finding Inspiration Again in an Old Flame

Tor Books is one of the largest, most successful science fiction and fantasy publishers in the world. Their authors include fantasy giants Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, and many others. These are regular sized people mind you, not actual fantasy giants, in case anyone was confused, or drunk. Or both. Which I know is often the case for me.

Tor has produced some of Mark’s and my most favorite stories and memories as children and young adults. And our dream has long been to join that pantheon of authors whose worlds and characters inspired and expanded our imaginations as children and that now fuels our own passion to create and inspire.

And like the classic old, wizened figure in their stories who guide the young protagonists to their heroic destinies, veteran publisher Tor once again shows the young heroes of this new age (new writers like us!) to their destinies.

All super inspiring stuff, Joe.

I know, right?


A lot of hullabaloo has been made about the return of short novels, or novellas, to the cultural mainstream of readers. I know because we are on that hullabaloo bandwagon. And yes, I am trying to use the word hullabaloo as much as possible. I mean, how many times in my life am I ever going to get to use it again?

Tor is no exception (yes, to the hullabaloo). Back in February, they announced they would be starting anew imprint primarily focused on publishing digital fantasy and sci-fi novellas. And their reasoning onwhy novellas are going to become the Next Big Thing is not only sound, it is right fucking on. Check out this little excerpt from the article.

“When the book wars sweep across the galaxy, and the blood of publishers runs down the gutters of every interstellar metropolis, the resource we fight for will not be paper, or ink, or even money. It will be time. For our readers, time is the precious commodity they invest in every book they decide to purchase and read.”

The luxury of being able to immerse ourselves uninterrupted through a 1000+ page tome faded long ago with our youth and beauty. *single tear* for the loss of uninterrupted time. And *single tear* for faded youth and beauty.

In our lives today, we need stories that can be finished in our daily commutes or consumed in bite-sized pieces on breaks, with just enough depth that we can keep it all in our heads after a long day of grinding it out at work, or listening to kids scream, or changing diapers, or grinding out a long day of screaming diapers while listening to change.

See? I can’t even keep things straight in a paragraph, what hope do I have with a 1000 page tome?


Here’s Tor’s strategy. They’re going to launch their new digital novella imprint with several big name contemporary fantasy and science fiction authors in the field. And they’re going to make their products fresher, hipper, and more modern while still keeping true the deep world building and character driven stories we grew up on.

And they’re going to do it way way faster.

But here’s the part I really love. They’re taking that fresh, modern approach not only to their stories but to their entire product. Check out the covers they’ve commissioned and put together. They are beautiful.

It seems to me this is only going to be the tip of the revolutionary iceberg. Tor has been accepting open submissions for novella length stories since May. And I’m no historian when it comes to the policies of Tor or traditional publishing, but I have heard it is very rare indeed for the big traditional publishers to accept manuscripts directly from any writer.

Long have the literary agent served as the gatekeepers and kingmakers of the publishing world. Only if you could secure an agent would your work even be shown to the publishers. That’s right, just shown to them, let alone get published. And here it is, Tor is now asking you personally to come forth and share your personal stores with them. You know, like, personally.

To me, Tor feels hungry again. It’s left the comforts of its old, venerated castle and it’s once again out in the world. A world it helped create. And it’s looking to bring that magic and inspiration it brought us to a new generation and a new market.

And you know what, the world seems more alive and exciting because of it.


Even though Mark and I decided to set out on the same journey alone, our wizened old figure a bottle of Laphroig instead of Tor or Gandolf or whatever favorite tropish old man you imagine, we still take heart at what Tor is setting out to accomplish. We take heart, and inspiration.

I guess it turns out, even thirty years later, we are still inspired by Tor and its stories. And we hope for the best for them.

*clap hands* for inspiration.

*single tear* for being thirty years older.

And, of course, hullabaloo.

See you next week.

Stay tuned. Stay frosty.



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