Jason, Rina, George and I have been talking about what’s next for people who write text. And one of the things I’ve been saying is that the dearth of markets for genre fiction (especially the longer stuff that windy sods like me keep writing) makes it pretty damn tough for new people to break in. This is not a complaint about knowing the secret handshake of the Cabal of Published Authors; text on paper is having a hell of a time competing with games and the internet, especially when both of them offer interaction with other people. The power of the imagination is mighty, but it’s gonna have a hell of a time going up against arguing over politics or fragging newbs.
It’s also a matter of entertainment hour per dollar. You spend forty bucks on a game you’re going to play for eighty hours, I think you’ll be hesitant to buy an eBook for six, especially when you can go slurp down free text anywhere else online. We writers have to think like publishers: we’re selling eyeballs to advertisers.
Which is why I’m doing this insane thing: I’m putting my fiction online, and I’m doing it for free. There will be ads at the beginning and end of each chapter/section/story, but they should be unobtrusive (and, ad servers willing, relevant). I’ll still have to promote the bejeezus out of this site, but with Worldcon coming up, there’s plenty of opportunity to spread the word and bring in new readers.
This could be a huge mistake. I might be shooting myself in the foot with magazines and websites and publishers. I’m still going to submit fiction like every other writer, but I’m not going to keep flogging stuff around. Genre fiction can have a pretty short shelf life, especially now with the future rising up and slapping us in the face every day. There are waves to catch, and I want to be as far in front as possible.