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View Diary: eBooks: Tale of Two eBooks Part II, Wool by Hugh Howey (45 comments)

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  •  I agree with you about Howey's market, as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Fuller, Brecht, pvasileff

    I would guess that science fiction fans are also heavy computer users which helps anything go viral.

    And it may have been that niche market (fan fiction) that enabled the 50 Shades series to take off as well.

    •  Fan Fiction builds fans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29, Brecht, UnionMade

      One has to wonder if the rise of self-publishing will be the death of the literary novel.

      It's difficult to find where the audience for a literary novel "hangs out". Perhaps they can only be found in university reading rooms, where reading choices are vetted by academic "experts in literature".

      While science fiction fans form communities that facilitate sharing, the audience for literary works is scattered. The closest thing to a group seems to be "subscribers to The New Yorker" or "NPR listeners". Self-published authors won't be able to get past those gates unless by some miracle they "go viral" first: noteworthy book by acclaim.

      Wikipedia no longer allows for book pages unless the book had been formally reviewed, received an award, or otherwise officially recognized. It is a great irony that this recognition is more likely to go to a genre writer who plays to a particular taste to sell books rather than a literary author whose primary goal is to produce a quality literary achievement.

      •  I agree. Self-publishing will probably be (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Robert Fuller, Brecht

        dominated by genre fiction. Hate to admit it, but genre fiction fans tend to be less discriminating than do fans of literary fiction. Case in point would be 50 Shades.

        I expect that literary fiction will continue to be published by the big five for the reasons you mention, there is no built-it, online community to push it virally and the gatekeepers at the major reviewing outlets. Literary fiction has always had a harder time at finding an audience than more commercial fiction. I don't know that self-publishing will change that much, if at all.

        •  I think ebook fans highly discriminating, but only (3+ / 0-)

          (or mainly) about Story. I find they will forgive much--lack of characterization, hideous grammar, typos, even the number of pages (too short or too rambling)--if the ebook offers a compelling story.

          And a compelling story is the backbone of genre fiction, don't you think? Especially of sci fi, dystopian, fantasy, thrillers, romance?

          As for what the big five are willing to publish these days--I think even for them, a compelling story (or at least a compelling hook or concept) is taking precedence over other "literary" values.

          My experience is in children's lit, and I have heard kidlit editors admit that they no longer automatically publish every book the distinguished members of their "list" produce. Each manuscript is sternly judged for its sales potential. I've seen a number of award-winning authors shaken by having the work of a year or two refused by the "house" that used to publish everything they wrote.

          One bit of anecdotal evidence: couple of years back, a much-published author of middle grade historical novels reported that her latest ms had been turned down. And her editor asked wistfully if it were possible to work a vampire into the next one.

          •  Absolutely. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, UnionMade
            And a compelling story is the backbone of genre fiction, don't you think? Especially of sci fi, dystopian, fantasy, thrillers, romance?
            Genre fiction still makes up the majority of ebook sales. Today. But ebooks are still in their infancy and will continue to grow and expand.
            Each manuscript is sternly judged for its sales potential.
            I suspect that prospective sales has always been a determinant in publishing, but it does seem that now publishers are looking for blockbusters, not just books that will turn a modest profit. Random House made $200 million from the 50 Shades trilogy (that I wrote about in Part I), enough to give each of its 5000 employees a $5000 bonus. If Twilight prompted an editor to suggest vampires in YA, what pressure will 50 Shades create?
            •  You asked... (3+ / 0-)
              If Twilight prompted an editor to suggest vampires in YA, what pressure will 50 Shades create?
              "New Adult."

              It's a genre that exists now. Borne of the Twilight readers who found "50 Shades" originally when it was Twilight fanfic and gave them their favorite pseudo-teenage characters a sexual outlet. Here, the internet is for pr0nz, and pr0nz of your favorite characters from books, TV, movies, video games, etc., is delivered in spades, and for free.

              Combine that with the DNA from more traditional romance readers who miss the old-school younger heroines (18-22) featured in a lot of the traditional short category lines (aka Harlequin Presents, the old "boss/secretary" style romances). This genre let you get away with a lot of sensuality and sexual tension, but very little "on-screen" action, relying instead on emotional conflicts and wildly imbalanced situational dynamics between the two main characters.

              Add to that the genetic material of "Chick Lit" made wildly popular by "Sex & The City" and "Bridget Jones' Diary." A genre that took off like a shot, skyrocketed to popularity in what seemed like hours, and became over-saturated and an authorial death-sentence just as quickly. The writers and readers who loved the sassy younger heroines were puzzlingly constrained in this genre's tropes away from focusing on their characters' relationships and sex lives.

              Mix all these together in a bubbling brew and you get "New Adult" - the sensibility and tone of a YA, complete with the melodramatic remnants of seething teenage hormones, the deliciously soapy drama of a genre founded in its appeal towards cable-TV audiences, and the emotional conflicts of a tried-and-true model that's held appeal for decades. Sprinkle it all with a liberal dose of the explicitness a generation of college-age readers have come to expect via being plugged-in to their favorite fandoms via the internet, and voila! you get New Adult.

              How does the Republican Congress sit down with all the butthurt over taxing the wealthy?

              by athenap on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:03:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But the point of my anecdote was actually (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Susan from 29, RiveroftheWest

                that a distinguished author of historicals couldn't sell a new historical unless it had a vampire or a zombie or maybe . . . I don't know . . . a meth lab? Some kind of hook to make the historical part palatable.

              •  All true, but New Adult is a category, not a genre (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Susan from 29, RiveroftheWest

                Genre refers to types of story (dystopian, historical, whodunnit, chick lit, etc.).

                Separate and alongside the genre, you have the age categories, such as Middle Grade, Tween, Young Adult, and now New Adult. So you can have Tween Chick Lit and New Adult Chick Lit, MG Thriller and YA Thriller, and so on.

                I love this:

                Mix all these together in a bubbling brew and you get "New Adult" - the sensibility and tone of a YA, complete with the melodramatic remnants of seething teenage hormones, the deliciously soapy drama of a genre founded in its appeal towards cable-TV audiences, and the emotional conflicts of a tried-and-true model that's held appeal for decades. Sprinkle it all with a liberal dose of the explicitness a generation of college-age readers have come to expect via being plugged-in to their favorite fandoms via the internet, and voila!
      •  Rec'd for posing the big question: where online do (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Susan from 29, RiveroftheWest

        the readers of literary novels "hang out?"

        If you built a web forum, would they come?

        •  "Literary" novels (3+ / 0-)

          Have rarely, historically, made bank. That was one of the points in calling them "literary." They were loss leaders, not expected to do much on the sales front. It's why publishers originally started publishing the pulp. The pulp kept them afloat in order for them to afford to publish the literary works.

          What's more than likely going to happen is that people for whom genre is a caste system as well as a classification system will find themselves experiencing discomfort. A huge chunk of publishing is a "gentleman's pursuit" from way, way back, and the same names and social circles find their way around review, publication, and agency.

          As New York becomes less and less the juggernaut it's been, the  rarefied "old guard" of reviewers will carry less weight as their influence has to share more of the stage with less centralized (and more targeted) gatekeeping entities. So the NYTBR will mean less when it has to share the stage with literary reviewers employed by newer media entities like Amazon, Oprah, and literary criticism blogs run by qualified academics who've moved to online peer review.

          For people who simply like literary stories--stories where the word choice is just as much of a consideration (and trumps, if a scene or chapter calls for it) the storytelling, libraries and librarians still exist. Book clubs still abound, and the word will still get out there about a literary story. The authors of said stories may have to don the mantle of self-publicist in order to raise awareness of their works, and it would behoove them to also become as savvy as they can on the business end, as agents aren't what they used to be.

          Other than that...writers gonna write. We do that no matter what the market's like, anyway. :)

          How does the Republican Congress sit down with all the butthurt over taxing the wealthy?

          by athenap on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:29:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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