And then? Then there'll be a revolution! Yeah!
Okay, maybe not. But I've been thinking about independent stuff. Music, comics, publishing. Really, I've been thinking about music and comics, and that's led to me thinking about publishing. So I'm going to kick this out there. More of me thinking out loud than anything else.
Independent music succeeds. There are networks of people trading info about artists. Musicians have myspace pages to keep in contact with their fans, promote their music and distribute their merch. Just last week I bought a cd from a band in Durham, NC. I heard them on an indy music podcast, I googled their name, found their myspace page and bought their CD. Magic.
Independent comics succeed. The guys at PvP, PennyArcade, Questionable Content and ScaryGoRound (among many others) do this for a living. They post comics, those comics get read, books get sold along with tshirts and stickers and...so forth. They start in their garage, they move to an office, they hire staff. Success.
Independent publishing? I have to qualify my statement, because I'm thinking mostly of internet based success here. The successful independent publishers I know are mostly paper-based. Electric Velocipede, Lady Churchill's and so forth, they achieve some level of success, mostly through connections which translate into sales. But most of those guys aren't doing this full-time. And there are levels of success. I would count NightShade, Golden Griffon and Pyr as independent publishers. They're certainly doing well for themselves, but there's a fair amount of infrastructure behind those operations.
So. Can independent, web-based publishing succeed according to the music/comics model? John Scalzi is a great example. He was publishing his book online, one chapter at a time. It generated enough attention to get him a contract with Tor. Tor ain't small potatoes. But how did that buzz generate? How did he spread the word? Vexing. So can a guy, or a couple guys, publish good stories in an out of the way URL and build up buzz sufficient to become self-sustaining?
I think it all comes down to hubs of communication. Comics have sites like Top Web Comics, which aggregate websites and offer them up for voting. As people vote for sites they rise in the standings, more people read them, more people vote. Eventually you peel off from that model, just because you have enough of a fanbase to generate your own buzz. Your readers are getting their friends to read you, and you don't need the outside feed to build distribution.
I don't think the sf/f community has this, at least not on the literary side. We have blogs, sure, and a network of blogs, but that's widely distributed and kind of random. There's nothing centralized about it, dig?
Anyone who knows me knows about the Dead Channel. If you don't, click on that link over to the right. Enlighten. I've been thinking about the DC a lot recently, and what I can do to broaden its impact on the genre. I used to believe that just producing some of the best fiction on the net was sufficient, but that's clearly not the case. So what now. Where do we go now.