While looking through my Google+ feed, a tweet by Twitter user @quartzen was brought to my attention (archive here.)
Featured SF display at my local B&N yesterday- one white female author, the rest white men, so many duplicate authors and books, ridiculous pic.twitter.com/LCEQmdRzh6
— Sandstone (@quartzen) August 20, 2017
I took one look at it and responded thusly:
— Rawle Nyanzi (@RawleNyanziFTL) August 22, 2017
Considering the tensions within speculative fiction fandom, this could have easily degenerated into mudslinging and blocking.
Instead, I got a civilized discussion on the state of SF/F publishing.
I learned that despite the sinking fortunes of Big Publishing, some readers still see bookstores as prestigious since the books are out in public space. The average customer isn’t poring over sales data or checking the Amazon rankings of random indie novels, so a display in a bookstore is, to them, a measure of public approval and acceptance — hence the complaint mentioned above.
That being said, the data is clear. Big Publishing is suffering while indie is surging. According to these numbers, up-and-coming authors — “diverse” or not — should focus their attention on getting good at indie publishing and self-marketing if they want to have any financial success. After all, a story won’t make a cent if it remains on the author’s hard drive. While good marketing certainly won’t lead to Rowling-style megastar status, it will lead to a small but devoted coterie of fans who will buy everything you publish.
It goes to show that the only prize that matters is the Benjamin Prize.