I’m disappointed to announce that The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six is the latest victim of the industry-wide delays that have been impacting book production since the start of the pandemic. It’s particularly bad at the moment, with paper shortages impacting the schedules at many publishing houses. In this case, our late November publication date has become a late January publication date.

It feels wrong that the volume covering 2020 won’t be available until 2022. I’m also concerned that this will impact sales. We’re going to miss out on the holiday shopping season and it wouldn’t surprise me if the book ended up with a shorter shelf life at brick and mortar stores since volume seven is also scheduled for 2022. (We don’t have a solid date for volume seven, but normally, I’d assume July. We may see that pushed back to give volume six a bit more breathing room. I should know for sure sometime in the next month.) Add to all this that delayed books often end up with canceled or reduced orders from booksellers.

And I’m not alone… This is happening to a lot of books. So what can be done? A few things come to mind: (and these are good for any book, delayed or on-time)

  1. Encourage your local library to put those books on order and check them out when they come in. (If no one checks out the book, that could be a problem for their future ones at that library.)
  2. Preorder wherever you normally buy books. Online or at your local bookstore. It doesn’t matter. (And get the book when it comes out, don’t leave them stuck with it, it just gets returned and that’s worse than not having ordered it. Distributors charge fees on returns and the books are often damaged.)  Preorders demonstrate that their customers are interested in a title and that in turn discourages bookstores from canceling or reducing orders. It might even get them to order more.
  3. When the book does come out, review it. Doesn’t have to be an essay. Just toss it whatever stars you think it deserves at whatever online site you use. At Amazon, for example, a book that gets more reviews gets higher visibility. That helps more than you probably think. Even Tweeting, Instagramming, or Facebooking “hey look what I got” book photos draws in some potential readers.
  4. And, of course, the usual tell a friend…