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Field Trip

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Russ, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I am going to NYC next week and will be seeing some agents, publishers, editors and a guy who researches the publishing industry (traditional and indy) for a living.

    If you have any pressing questions, feel free to post them here and I will do my best to get useful information for folks.
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    All of my questions would be about the market data and how cool it would be to see a demographics breakdown of who's buying fantasy books and how closely matches up with, say, science fiction or horror. And do the demographics change based on how popular a book is? That is, how are the "I'll take a risk on an unknown book" people different from the "casual readers" or from the "I'll read it if that's what everyone is telling me to read" people.

    Those are kind of specific and researchy, though. I don't think I have any good broad questions for the publishers that I would want to know. Give me a bit and I could probably think of a couple good ones if you're looking to drive a conversation, though.
     
    Russ likes this.
  3. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    I've always wondered how agents come up with what they put on their wish lists (#MSWL). Do they put items on their lists based only on personal tastes, or are their lists based on what they've learned certain editors are currently looking for? Or is it a mix of both, or something else entirely? How helpful is it to the writer in the long run to submit a work that is a great match for an agent's wish list?
     
  4. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    I'd like to know if publishing to forums like these is a no-no.

    Sent from my SM-G550T1 using Tapatalk
     
  5. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    If you intend to actually publish.

    Sent from my SM-G550T1 using Tapatalk
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    So I ended up having a very good conversation with the researcher that covered some of what you want to know. I apologize I forgot to ask about horror, it just slipped my mind. As you will see we talked about primarily American data.

    So fantasy readers (taking GRRM out of the mix as best as possible because he is an anomaly who throws off the data) tend younger than SF readers and are more likely to be female than SF readers. SF readers trend older and more male.

    Fantasy sales are going up steadily and are believed to be a growth market over time. SF sales are fairly steady and the field is not considered to be a growth market over the next five to ten years.

    The really amazing thing about fantasy readers that I learned is that fantasy readers are the top genre readers for loyalty to writers. Once a fantasy reader likes an author they are highly likely to buy anything else that author publishes in the future. The next closest genre for reader-author loyalty is the Thriller genre and there is a pretty big drop to all the rest.

    Now demographics don't change too much for books that break out of genre boundaries, except that they get a bit watered down. They do however change marketing approaches when they believe a book might break out. There are about 55 million Americans who buy fiction books regularly. There are about another 85 million who buy fiction books occasionally, and then about another 130 million or so who almost never buy fiction books. If it is believed that the book can transcend its boundaries they will make attempts to market to that second group (and non-fan parts of the first group) and rarely to the third group. There apparently is now some traction in the third group with bookshots.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    So its funny. The agents I met with don't put almost anything on their website about what they want except some pretty generic comments. Apparently this is a function of the maturity of the agents' practise and portfolio. They have a great deal of work and are not hungry for new work. They prefer writers who do their homework and then seek them out quite specifically or are personally referred to them.

    Agents develop relationships with various editors and publishers over time, and those relationships often match up with their passions. So an agent who has an interest is say fantasy will get to know more fantasy acquiring editors over time, and vice versa. They also have a better handle on what those editors are looking to acquire at any one time. So often their personal interests then dovetail with their business interests.

    It is hard for an agent, except perhaps a very senior one who is really looking for works that will transcend specific genre, to keep on top of what people are looking for in a variety of genres, so it pays to make an approach to agents who specialize in the genre you are writing in.

    Now this gets tricky for newer or marginal writers (writers whose work is not considered to have conventional commercial value). If your work is somewhat off the beaten track, you might be better off finding a younger agent who is willing (and has time) to take the risk of your work and champion it. Younger or less established agents will often take on a broader variety of work because they cannot afford to be choosey. However it can be tough to separate the wheat from the chaff among less established agents.

    However these agents fall in love with some submission that is not in their usual wheelhouse and will take it on. Of course this is if the work gets past their readers.

    Hope that helps. That is what I was able to get for you.
     
    Michael K. Eidson and spectre like this.
  8. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I am told that publishers are rarely interested in buying any works that have had a substantial portion of the work published in any format before the sale.
     
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  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Good to hear about fantasy, not too surprised by the loyalty thing from folks I know. Were there any breakdowns between subgenres? Fantasy is a rather broad term.
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Thanks Russ, that's a lot of good information. Reader loyalty in fantasy makes a lot of sense to me, but I'm surprised it isn't matched in sci-fi. Is the growth in fantasy connected to Harry Potter and Game of Thrones?


    At least so far as Mythic Scribes goes, the Showcase (and Challenges) forum is behind a membership wall, and you'd be hard pressed to post enough of a novel there for it to be an issue.
     
  11. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    Amazing post, really helpful.

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  12. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I am afraid that we didn't discuss that. My apologies. I hope to be doing similar meetings/social events in April so I will post another thread before I go to that one. Do remind me to ask next time.
     
  13. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    Thanks for this info, Russ. It's timely, because yesterday was #MSWL day on Twitter. Lots of agents and editors tweeting updates to their wish lists. In researching the agents I found of interest, it seemed there was a good mix of senior and junior agents participating. Some of them got quite specific about plots or themes they'd like to see, while others kept it at a genre/subgenre level.

    I'm guessing the agents you talked to did not participate in #MSWL day, or their answers would probably have been different.
     
    Russ likes this.
  14. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I would be very surprised if they did. They are in very good shape for clients atm.
     
  15. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Cool, that that might be an interesting bit of demographics and trends. Never easy to predict anything in this world, but always good to see what people are thinking.
     
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