Michael H. Payne

by Michael H. Payne

Winner, in

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America awarded Michael H. Payne the 2013 Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award for his outstanding work on behalf of the organization.

About Michael H. Payne

Before I joined SFWA, I was never a convention-going fan, and twenty years after giddily springing for a Lifetime membership, I’m never going to be a real pro, either. Tor published my novel 15 years ago because Algis Budrys convinced them to, but alas, he couldn’t interest them or anyone else in the sequel or the five other novels I wrote before he died. I sell short fiction here and there–I’m in the last five volumes of the Sword & Sorceress anthology, for instance–but I enjoy the impractical too much: everything I write features talking animals; I’ve posted between 11 and 14 pages of webcomics every week for the past eight years even though I have no business trying to draw; and shall I mention the quarter million words of My Little Pony fanfiction I’ve written since 2011? Yes, yes I shall….

About the Circulating Book Plan

When it’s working correctly, the Circulating Book Plan is a way for SFWA members to see a fair percentage of the new SF and fantasy books being published in order to recommend the ones they like for the Nebula Awards®. The program allows members to access and consider a wider range of titles for nomination, leading to a more balanced ballot. There are nine groups around North America, each with four or five members mailing books one to the other and each with a repository library at the end.

Michael took over coordination of the CBP in 1992, following Tom Zelinski.

What is the Circulating Book Plan? (History, what it does, how long it’s been in existence, whatever you have that will give some background.)

The Circulating Book Plan is a way for SFWA members to get hold of new SF and fantasy books in order to recommend the ones they like to the Nebula list. We have 10 roughly geographical groups around North America, each with 3 or 4 members and a repository library at the end.

For most of the Plan’s existence–having misplaced my paper files, I have no idea when the program began–the publishers would send books to the Co-ordinators of each group, the Co-ordinators would give ’em the once over, recommend the ones they liked, then send ’em on to the next person in their group. The last person, then, would send the books to that group’s library.

The avalanche of change the industry lately has made getting 10 free copies of each new book from the publishers more like pulling teeth than usual, however, but I’ve got another round of request letters I’m getting ready to send out. And so many books are electronic these days, how do we deal with that? So, so mysterious…

How long have you been involved with Circulating Book Plan, and what do you do?

I took over from Tom Zelinski as Head Coordinator in 1992. I’m supposed to add folks to their nearest group when they join, am supposed to be the contact person for the various libraries, and am supposed to keep the request letters flowing to the publishers in the hopes that they’ll respond and send us books.

How long have you been a member of SFWA?

I joined in 1992, I guess–Joe Haldeman was president, at any rate–and the first thing I saw in the old Forum was a message saying they needed someone to co-ordinate the Circulating Book Plan. “Nearly free books,” I thought to myself, and I’ve been trying to keep the thing going ever since. I’ve also managed the “Featured Books” selections on the SFWA web site since the last redesign, I suppose I should mention.