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Update Circa 2002

UPDATES: 2021 25th Anniv.    2016 20th Anniv.    2014    2010    FAQ ca. 2002

Museum (FAQ ca. 2002)


= About =

Frequently Asked Questions

Update—February 2011

What is Clocktower Books?

Give a short history of Clocktower Books.

What sort of contract and benefits do you offer?

What formats do you publish?

Is Clocktower Books Accepting Submissions?

Does an author have to pay anything?

Do you have professional editors?

What is Far Sector SFFH?

What is SharpWriter.Com?


Updates—February 2011, 3 December 2012: Clocktower Books (CTB 1996-ongoing) was the [JTC, 3-DEC-2012, probably third after Bibliobytes and CM Boson Books] online, digital publisher in world history (meaning: online publisher releasing digital texts in download formats, as opposed to CD and other portable, offline formats; antecedent to all e-book publishers to follow, for all platforms including PC, Mac, UNIX, etc., and all portable readers/pads invented since). CTB launched with its earliest imprints Neon Blue Fiction (April 1996) and The Haunted Village (July 4, 1996). Brian Callahan and I created Clocktower Fiction (CTF) in 1996 as an umbrella company for these and other projects, which soon morphed into Clocktower Books. [NOTE: We were the first publisher in history to publish entire proprietary novels online, in weekly serial chapters, starting 1996.--JTC, 3-DEC-2012].

The information below has historical value, and some of it is still functionally correct.

I stopped taking open submissions in the early 00s (which is not to say I may not reopen to subs, perhaps by a back door), so that I could turn my full attention to my real career as an author.

In the early days, as we invented a new publishing mode virtually from scratch, we had to imagine the coming of e-commerce, of e-readers, and more. At the same time, we had to learn the publishing industry in its print form to understand the existing process from acquisition to retail—you cannot innovate unless you first understand what you propose to replace.


Everything back then was metaphors. Clocktower Fiction became Clocktower Books to widen the umbrella to include nonfiction. We argued about 'press' (name already taken) because why use a metaphor of the print world that circled its Conestoga wagons to keep our jet cars out. Why 'books'? Why not some digital term? Because, we reasoned at the time, the world did not yet acknowledge that a digital text could be a 'book.'


There were still many Luddites who thought it was sacrilegious for Amazon to sell printed books online—nevermind the horrors that we were perpertrating by writing and posting fiction and nonfiction online. SFWA denied that digital short stories were actual 'stories,' and denied story credit to our authors, even though some were SFWA members (their ennobled loftiness crumbled in 2001 when money appeared on their doorstep). The Library of Congress told me they did not have a clear policy yet as to whether digital works were actually 'true books,' and forced me to register several new novels in that period as 'unpublished works.' The title Clocktower Books was a Futurian bow shot, fired to challenge the Backwardians.


As with all history, it is vital to keep alive the memory of where we have been—and who we were before we became who we are. Most websites are a continuing labor of love and get endlessly renovated. Each renovation loses something of the previous iterations, until history itself is demolished, shattered, blasted, jackhammered in clouds of plaster dust, cleared away as rubbish, and replaced by new structures. In these pages, I will preserve a small amount of what is left from the early days of the World Wide Web—while it was still all fun.


~ Historic Info ~

What is Clocktower Books? Clocktower Books is an electronic book publisher and print-on-demand publisher (formerly C&C Publishers, also formerly Clocktower Fiction) based in San Diego, California. Clocktower Books is owned by John T. Cullen, who continues to explore the exciting possibilities of digital publishing. John Cullen in late 2002 launched, an exciting new foray into publishing short nonfiction articles of interest to a popular audience of web-savvy readers. Clocktower Books publishes digital short fiction via the Web magazine Far Sector SFFH and maintains the archive site of its earlier version, Deep Outside SFFH. Most novels are available in print and digital editions. Clocktower Books has no employees. See also Notice. top

A short history of Clocktower Books. Brian Callahan and John Cullen first started talking about publishing their own work in early 1996. They brought their mystery/suspense website on line in April 1996 (Neon Blue Fiction) followed by their sf/f/h website in July 1996 (The Haunted Village). In the Fall of 1997 they brought on line Clocktower Fiction as an umbrella publishing site, with Neon Blue Fiction and The Haunted Village as genre imprints. Together, these sites had reached an audience of thousands of readers in over 100 countries including far-flung places like Mongolia, Red China, Chile, South Africa, in the first year of operation. In April 1998, John and Brian launched their sf/f/h magazine Deep Outside SFFH, which is now Far Sector SFFH and exploring ever newer ways of bringing readers and authors together. In August 1998, John Cullen launched SharpWriter.Com, a writer's resource website, which was named "one of the Web's 101 best sites for writers" by Writer's Digest in May 1999. On New Year's Eve 2000 John and Brian relaunched Clocktower Fiction (now Clocktower Books) as a pay-based ebook publisher of Rocket eBook editions. By late summer/fall 2000 they were moving into the POD and PDF formats. In 2001, Brian withdrew as partner, while remaining friend and consultant. John enthusiastically keeps the house moving along, in 2002 affiliating with Fictionwise ( to fulfill e-book requirements in all leading e-book formats including Adobe and Microsoft. John withdrew from the Nuvomedia/Gemstar contract (signed July 1999, terminated July 2002) with due and timely notice. Since early 2003, John has been presenting nonfiction as well as fiction through Print on Demand (POD) and

Our Contract. NOTICE: Closed to submissions at present. Our contract is very standard for ebook publishers. We pay a 50% royalty on receipts (usually about 25% of suggested list or cover price, subject to discounts). We pay quarterly, usually in the second month of the quarter following the previous, when all receipts from distributors have come in. We take only those rights that we need (ebook and/or POD), and we tie those up usually on an annual basis. We do not pay for copyright registration, but we urge every author to secure copyright registration in his/her country. We do generally provide free, quality cover art, although some of our authors provide their own cover art, subject to our

What formats do you publish? Until fall 2000, we published only Rocket eBook editions. In Sept 2000-April 2001 we moved into POD via Ingram's LightningSource subsidiary. In the latter half of 2002, John T. Cullen terminated the Gemstar contract and moved to Fictionwise as our e-book outlet of choice for both fiction and nonfiction. The print editions continue to be available from all major online retailers and capable of being ordered across the counter in most leading bookstores. In 2005, created, selling their own branded version of the former Rocket

Is Clocktower Books Accepting Submissions? NOTICE: Closed to submissions at

Does an author have to pay for anything? No. Publisher works with author and any outside editor/illustrator as needed. Clocktower Books has never had any paid

Do you have professional editors? While Clocktower Books has never had any paid staff, our associated editors are experienced, college-educated professionals who work with the author to ensure the highest editorial quality. top

What is Far Sector SFFH? NOTICE: Closed to submissions at present. Far Sector SFFH (formerly Deep Outside SFFH) is the world's oldest web-only professional magazine of speculative fiction, formerly owned jointly by Brian Callahan and John Cullen, and now the sole property of John T. Cullen. We stake our claim to fame carefully, noting that a small handful of other publications were either there before us (but didn't pay professional SFWA rates to their authors), or in at least one instance were there first but went out of business. We were the first web-only magazine listed in the annual Writer's Market (1999 Edition) alongside the big print magazines in the genre. Far Sector SFFH is 100% freelance. top

What is SharpWriter.Com? NOTICE: Closed to submissions at present. SharpWriter.Com (SWC) is a writer's complete resource site, launched by John Cullen in August 1998, and can be reached from the main CTB website or at SWC grew out of several impulses, most notably the fact that the two publishers used to meet in 1996-7 at a now long-gone coffee bar in Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego to discuss the things they hoped to accomplish on the Web, and one of the ideas was to make the links page a major resource for writers. The resource page grew into a major website on its own accord, presently served by a half dozen or more editors and dozens of book reviewers. In May 1999 Writer's Market named SharpWriter.Com as "one of the Web's 101 best websites for writers." top

Notice. Clocktower Books (formerly an imprint of C&C Publishers, and formerly Clocktower Fiction) is a royalty paying publisher of print and electronic editions. The sole proprietor is John T. Cullen. There are not now, nor have there ever been, employees. The only person authorized to represent Clocktower Books, or to make agreements or sign contracts for Clocktower Books, is John T. Cullen. If you have any questions about the company, please contact John T. Cullen at The information on this page is subject to update without notice. top



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