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Brave New Wild Wild West August 22, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, fantasy, ideas, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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It’s fascinating following the discussion among the Western Fictioneer writers about the state of publishing. The talk of trying an original anthology, if not picked up by a print publisher, then doing it with a WF imprint, is exciting. How to go directly to libraries for sales of not only that title but also hc originals? E-books seem to be a bit more of a problem but authors are scanning their own work or having it done cheaply to see how the market is. I’m interested in finding that out. My impression of western readers might be outdated. I’d love to see a demographic study to find out who *is* reading westerns.

And I don’t mean just ranch romances. There seems to be a fair number of “hot” westerns out there, too. Good friend Aurora Jamison has one set in Manitou Springs in the 1880s.

But I prefer more traditional westerns and any expanded venue would be great, be it e-books or a new imprint–why not both? All this kicked off in the WF ranks because of Dorchester possibly declaring bankruptcy rather than only going to e-book publishing. There’s a giant rot in the publishing world that extends beyond a lousy economy and falling sales (possibly as much as a 40% dropoff for Dorchester, though this is a guess). What’s the cure?

Some WF members complain that traditional publishers buy nothing but traditional westerns. Could this be part of the appeal of steampunk? It’s possible to set a story in the West with elements you’d never find in High Noon or Shane. Better? Not necessarily. Different, sure. And different can be really really good.

To the librarians out there reading this. What sort of package would a library be interested in seeing? I think a combo sale of print/hc novel along with the e-book or audio book would make a beguiling offer. Pay for the hc, get the e-book for nothing. Would libraries be interested in themes or just…westerns? The biggest names in the field are gone. New writers have to move in to fill the void or the field will wither and die. From accounts, the Louis L’Amour estate is not licensing any more of his short stories. That doesn’t mean as good or better stories from living authors can’t be had. Is it possible to convince librarians and readers in general of that? How do you reach them?

Ah, the joys of VIPub! We are looking at a change in publishing as significant as Gutenberg hand-cranking out that first printed Bible. No soma allowed, my droogies, my trail companions. We’ve got to get into what only seems like a science fictional future–now.

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