Mammals and dinosaurs

10 Responses

  1. Ginger Booth says:

    Truly appreciated this piece, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, and its scholarship. I’m an indie, struggling to get seen, and your analysis and Michael Anderle’s have changed my view of the game. Thank you.

  2. I think you’re spot on here. Something I’ve also noticed is that authors who can do the Co-Pub model are not as easy to come by as some might think, and so you see a churn of authors through that process.

    For the time being, I see curation becoming increasingly important. We see it on Etsy and other retail spaces in the atomized market, where trust is a key factor in discoverability. The author fiefdoms can leverage trust with their audiences to establish their own retail channels outside Amazon, which more are going to try to do in order to stabilize their incomes.

    Something I’m very curious about, at least in SF, is when the genre is going to shift toward Indie/Co-Pub/NewPub as a driver in the “field.” If you listen to Jonathan Strahan and Gary Wolfe’s Coode Street Podcast, both editors, SF historians and reviewers for Locus, there is barely any mention of indie work at all. You would think it didn’t exist.

    As in-roads start to happen with awards, I wonder when the shift is going to take place with novels and the general mindshare… What will the new field be? I don’t see short fiction changing much since it hasn’t been disrupted by NewPub, and can shift digitally more easily. (Apex tried to go print this last year and is closing it out, wasn’t profitable.) This is where I see curation being really important, as Tradpub readers shift, their going to look to their trusted authors to recommend NewPub stuff.

    Something I’ve been watching recently is the Amazon reviewer response between Tradpub SF and indie, mostly in Space Opera and Military SF. I think the successful Indie stuff is more highly scored than most current Tradpub SF. Since those readers aren’t factoring into tradpub editorial goals, they aren’t resonating with those audiences. (I love Yoon-Ha Lee’s new Space Opera, for instance, but it loses in reviews and ranking to say, Jay Allen in the same categories.)

    Did you see Michael Sullivan’s recent reddit post with his thoughts? https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/afmkie/some_insights_on_author_income_in_the_wake_of_the/

    Thanks again for your thoughts. It’s fascinating to be working in the middle of a disruption… or maybe it’s terrifying?

    • yudhanja-admin says:

      This is really interesting, because from my understanding SF, especially in the US, STARTED out with NewPub -ish fiefdoms. The scifi pulps of the Golden Age come to mind. And then at some point it began to consolidate as the market crashed. Presently there seems to be a sort of “survivors’ circle” of publishers and magazines – Tor, Orbit, Baen, Locus, Clarkesworld et al – who all can make or break authors and don’t seem to acknowledge much outside their bounds. Audiences, too, seem to fall prey to this, which, as you pointed out, opens up some interesting spaces for authors to work in.
      I think this is already starting to change, though. Case in point – the Expanding Universe, an indie anthology I write in, has twice now had stories that were nominated for Nebulas. Last year Jonathan Brazee (Weaponized Math) was in the final public nominees list. This year, -fingers crossed – it may be RR Virdi and myself. I think the real big shift will start to happen when a few stalwart midlists from these publishers show up a year or so down the line with indie published books. It’s going to be very interesting to see.

  3. Jamie Davis says:

    Excellent analysis of past, current, and the potential of future trends. Thanks for pulling it all together in a coherent picture.

  4. As wonderful as the ebook revolution, spearheaded by Amazon KDP has been, I do wonder about the future of publishing and the distinction between books and ebooks. To me, the medium affects the message.

    Call me old fashioned, but books are more than the moment in which you read them, they’re the lasting impression you have beyond them, the thoughts they inspire, the feelings they evoke, the attitudes they challenge. Ask anyone to recall the plot of their favorite story and you’ll get a 50/50 recollection at best. Ask them for quotes and the accuracy rate will drop into single digits, but the impression those books made is indelible, and therein lies the true value of books. I haven’t seen that with ebooks. I feel we’re missing that element in the electronic medium.

    I’ve benefited hugely from ebooks. For me, the ratio of book sales to ebook sales would be 1:99, so I’m not dissing ebooks, but I don’t see ebooks having the same lasting impact. ebooks are more commoditized. Physical books have presence. I’d pick one up a decade later and re-read. Not sure I’ll do that with ebooks, partially because the electronic medium is (as you point out) centered on attention and instant gratification (something a book deliberately prolongs), and thrives on scattering focus between competing games, social media, etc, but you can get lost in the pages of a book.

    Anyway, just my thoughts on reading your article. Not sure I’ll ever write in a franchise, but it sure works well for those that do. I suspect we’ll continue to see fragmentation rather than consolidation. ebooks are the diet cokes of the literary world, quickly consumed, easily forgotten. The same story in a physical book, though, carries gravitas and that’s where trad publishers still have an edge.

    Cheers,
    Peter

    • yudhanja-admin says:

      Funnily enough, I’m at the stage where physical books are an annoyance – unless it’s something I intend to keep around as a reference text.
      I don’t think the electronic medium would be conflated with ebooks in this sense. The content, as I see it, is still very much the same; the information contained within is the same; it’s more the delivery mechanism that has changed. I do agree that meatspace representation – ie. paper – lends any information gravitas, but from my [limited] experience that impression has not always been a strong signal of usefulness or quality.

  5. Melisa Todd says:

    This is excellent and I fit in here perfectly. I’m the small indie author/publisher with a co-author working on creating series and hoping for the spark that will grab people. While I can’t compete with the speed or size of LMBPN now – down the road I’m hoping I can. But I think the basic still is story – if you don’t have a good story it doesn’t matter how fast you publish. But I also think for the co-pub’s you need that “spark” where the energy generated between them is greater than it is singly.
    Mostly – I need to write, publish, and have faith in my stories – but also keep on the business model I’m working towards.

  6. JR Handley says:

    Interesting conundrum. Employers want work experience, which you can’t get because nobody will hire you. Seems to be a universal flaw that those seeking to enter into a market face.

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