James Minz is Senior Editor with Baen Books. He spoke at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold conference yesterday. Minz’s topic was “Welcome to the Ghetto.” What ghetto? Science fiction, fantasy and horror, still “suffering” from the reputation of being “those people” in some neighborhoods, but rocking out in their own.
Minz made some passing comments about the state of publishing, a subject that is binding many electrons on thousands of blogs, tweets and Facebook pages. Publishing is changing with the rise of the eBook, and many people have proclaimed its demise. Their dire predictions? Electronic books will replace print. Indie authors will replace the publishing house. All the services of the publishing house will become separate cottage industries—indie editors, indie book cover artists, indie format creators. And agents will go the way of the unicorn. You get the picture.
But is it true? What did Minz contribute to this conversation?
That the Baen Books model might be the happy medium that is already working. Baen started doing eBooks thirteen years ago. They still do print books. They still do their own editing and book cover design. Still talk to agents and allow direct submissions by authors. And it’s working. Instead of cutting some things to the bone as other houses have been forced to do in dealing with this big shift, Baen is maybe taking its belt in a notch. They’re surviving and thriving.
Publishing will survive this shift. Yeah, it will be a little different. Authors will have more options. Some great indie books will be posted. Some bad ones. Traditional publishing will continue and publish some good and some – well, not as stellar. Agents will still take their favorite editors to lunch and sell books.
Writer’s organizations will still put on great conferences choked full of information on craft and the business. Congratulations to RMFW on their 30th anniversary.