Trade Publishing is dead! Long live Trade Publishing!

Oh, so that title is a little pretentious, And for the record, I love and respect trade publishing. But I’ve been reading some pretty interesting stuff about the trends in trade publishing. Now, none of this has appropriate sources or anything, as it’s just rumors at this point, but it seems like trade published authors, especially in the science fiction genre, are beginning to abandon ship and veer more towards self publishing. I can understand why. There’s a lot of awesome stuff out there in the science fiction category, and why would a person spend $19.99 on a hard back sci fi story when they could get a story that’s just as good for around three bucks?

Now, if this is true and sci fi authors are leaving their agents and publishing houses, then it’s gonna affect us over here on the self publishing side. And this probably isn’t limited to the science fiction genre, but it could stretch to others as well.

So far, I’ve seen two schools of thought on the matter. The first is a little worrisome. With the influx of professional level authors beginning the migration to self publishing, the market may become a lot more competitive. I mean, these people were picked up by their respective agents and houses for a reason. A lot of indie authors just don’t have the experience that these authors do. Which could mean that, as the years progress, the science fiction community as a whole could come to expect more out of their science fiction, a notion that’s pretty scary if you’re writing there. Basically, with such stiff competition, it would make it harder to write a science fiction story that pleases the now eclectic audience.

Now, the second point is a little less worrisome. Again, none of this is for certain. but if the science fiction writers come over to the indie side, they may get a hard dose of our “reality.” Let’s remember that many of these authors don’t have experience marketing or promoting their work. Sure, they’ll bring their fans on name recognition, but on its own, it’s gonna be hard to match the income of a big, fat advance check. Also, a lot of them may not write frequently enough. The main key to success in the indie market is to be consistent. And lets not forget that these people probably have no idea how to do cover art. That’s one of the benefits of trade publishing. You don’t have to worry about all that stuff. But over here on the indie side, you do.

How do I feel about this? Well, frankly, I’m a little worried about competing with some of the big names out there. However, I do recognize that they’re gonna have to pay their dues, just like I’m beginning to. Also, indie publishers are better able to navigate the stormy waters of the self publishing market, as this market is anything but stable. It would also seem that hybridization would be a nice middle ground for authors. Some are sticking with their publishers and also self publishing books. And its a whole heck of a lot easier to get editors and a good cover artist if you’ve got nice royalties from a trade contract or a big advance check.

What’s gonna happen in the next few years? Well, the websites I’m reading tend to be pretty skewed to one side, so it’s difficult finding an impartial thought. But there are a number of advantages to self publishing, especially if a person is already writing well enough to have representation in the first place. But rather than have all the trade published dudes come over here to the “salt mines” I think that trade publishing houses are going to have to change the way they do business first. I’m not entirely sure what that could be, but it seems to me, at least at this exact point, that the benefits of publishing may be teetering in the favor of the indie market. Trade publishing houses have to figure out how to make their publishing models more attractive to authors. But can they? I have no idea. I guess we’ll just have to see. Until then, it’s best we just keep writing. No matter what, us authors should always just keep writing. We’ll figure out all that complex stuff after our manuscript is done.

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