Ink & Bourbon
Tilting at windmills. Because those windmills think they're better than us.

The New Literary Economy

by Patrick LeClerc

I foolishly let myself read some of the traditional versus indie publishing debates on a writer's forum that will remain unnamed, but which rhymes with StinkBin.

I oughtn't to have done that.

But it did occur to me that there a huge misunderstanding among many writers. And it's one I feel I should address.

Economics is not a zero sum game.

While there is a certain logic in the belief that there is only so much money and resources out there, and my gain must surely be your loss, it simply isn't true.

The poorest person today is richer than the most well to do Neanderthal, and a person of average means in twenty first century America is has more real wealth, and lives better than the King of Spain did in 1600. That could not happen if we were just passing the same limited amount of wealth around.

Technology and success creates more wealth. That's how economies progress. And success in metallurgy lead to success in agriculture and in building and architecture through better tools, which resulted in more productive crops, etc.

The point of all this is that advances in human endeavor often have far reaching stimulating effects on other works. Most people grasp this. Economists, scientists, even some politicians.

Lagging behind the field, bringing down the grading curve and throwing spitballs from the back of the class is the publishing industry.

There is an irrational but deeply, nay fanatically held belief that there are only so many readers and only so much money to go around, and that if I sell one more book, somebody must needs sell one fewer. We see this terror disguised as contempt for anything that doesn't fit the current needs of the market, and it is a cornerstone of policy of the established houses. That only so much quality can possibly be out there, and opening the gates will dilute and destroy literature as we know it. This is the reason they oppose independently published fiction, and why they crank out the same sequels in the same settings by the same handful of authors year after year.

So, we see that the large publishing houses are backing the safe horses, and leap up on tables when the new venues show themselves, but they need to be concerned about the bottom line, and that kind of thinking has never been good for progress or for art, so let's move on to the next point, namely, do new emerging authors and cheap ebooks take bread from the mouths of existing authors?

Well, let me pose a counter argument. If there were a finite amount of money to be made in s/f and fantasy literature, then J K Rowling would have it all. The Harry Potter series would have eaten up all the available fantasy book buying cash and Brooks, Martin and Jordan would be a three piece string and percussion act on a subway platform.

Instead, the success of the Harry Potter series has drawn more young readers to fantasy and to reading in general. Combine that with the recent film adaptations bringing Tolkien's work to new legions of fans, this is a great time to be in the fantasy biz. Younger readers are coming into the fold, and the genre is gaining mainstream acceptance.

Rationally, this is exactly the effect that new media such as the ebook and POD can have. The short story is dead in the world of the big publisher. The novella is dead. The average fantasy book that they want to look at today is pushing a thousand pages. But the Internet, the ebook and the independently published book is the perfect home for the short story, and it is in these short pieces that the genre has its roots. Let's push the field forward in its oldest form in the newest venue. How more s/f could you be than that?

Now, do publishing houses go broke? Do ezines fold? Well, yes. But not because the field is saturated. Because some of them are really bad. I stopped buying new fantasy books for years, because they were all the same. I started all the big fat series, but after a thousand pages, if you haven't got to some resolution, I really can't be bothered. Nothing wrong with the epic, but many series don't even feel like they're working toward a conclusion. Just riding the wave of popular support and royalties.

There are exceptions. There are good authors out there. There always will be. And we support them. I'll always buy a book from an author I trust. Hell, we've interviewed most of my favorites.

It's just that the genre is marching on. And the industry needs to stop fearing change and innovation. New technology and new venues are an opportunity, not a threat.

Unless they want us to be.

In which case, we're more than happy to oblige.


Books by Patrick LeClerc


Immortal Vagabond Healer Series

Book 1

Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

Sean Danet is immortal—a fact he has cloaked for centuries, behind enemy lines and now a paramedic’s uniform. Having forgotten most of his distant past, he has finally found peace. But there are some things you cannot escape, however much distance you put behind you.

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Book 2

Spitting Image by Patrick LeClerc

Immortal Sean Danet can heal others with a touch. Finally, after too long as a rootless vagabond, he has found a place he feels he belongs, with friends he can trust and the love of an intelligent, beautiful woman. The life he dreamed of but never expected to attain.

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Short Historical Adventures

Advancing on Paris by Patrick LeClerc

One of the problems with being immortal is you get to live through all of history's most famous blunders. Like Napoleon's inspired idea for a land war in Asia. If you love historical military fiction, action and adventure, or just one of the sexiest urban fantasy heroes of all, Advancing on Paris is a must.

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More Great Fiction from Patrick LeClerc


in Every Clime and Place by Patric LeClerc

Semper Fidelis. The motto of the United States Marine Corps. On the ragged edges of civilization, Corporal Michael Collins has lived those words, taking on riots and evacuations, rebels and terrorists. Asteroid belt patrol is just another deployment. Ninety nine percent boredom, one percent terror.

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Broken Crossroads by Patrick LeClerc

The city of Laimrig, once a mighty hub of commerce and a seat of power sinks into corruption and decay. Slavers, crime lords and corrupt officials hold sway while the ruling nobility wallow in decadence. War rages beyond the borders, while within rebellion simmers and sinister plots unfold.

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