2020/06/08

Neo-patronage

Imagine that you're an artist of some sort desiring to make a living through your art. In the case of novelists, this used to mean seeking approval from an agent and then an editor before landing a book deal with one of the big New York publishers.

That publishing model is on the way out, thanks to decades of literary malpractice on the big publishers' part brought to a head by the Kindle revolution and finished off by Corona-chan. We can expect another round of mergers and mid list contract cancellations. When the dust settles, oldpub will be reduced to pimping a handful of name authors at Costco.

A lot of newpub authors will tell you that Amazon is the way of the future. But even KDP is starting to show some cracks. For one, it's gone pay-to-play by making ads pretty much mandatory. Requiring authors to game the algorithm has made Amazon's search engine practically useless for finding the book you want, which means that new authors' only hope of being discovered is by forking over considerable sums of money

Those are just the new kinks in KDP. Amazon has always held their cards close to the vest, and a lot of those cards have vital sales data that authors could use to enrich themselves and Amazon.

It's often been said, and rightly so, that oldpub wasn't in the book business; it was in the lumber business. You run into the same problem with Amazon, in that they're not a book company, either. Instead, their main product is the A9 algorithm and the machine learning technology used to train it.

Your book only matters to Amazon insofar as it's one of a million other data points manipulated by their algorithm. Getting government software contracts is more lucrative than making you a best seller.

Let's not forget that Amazon constitutes one of the premiere priestly colleges within the Death Cult hierarchy. They've already turned censorious. Look for them to step up the book banning as the chaos in the streets and Washington escalates.

All that is to say that those who saw a long-term publishing solution in Amazon will eventually have to look elsewhere. I've been saying for a while now that a new business model for artists is on the way. KDP was the wrecking ball that tore down the old establishment. Crowdfunding looks like an intermediate stage between the old way and what's next. Right now, you've got guys like author Jon Del Arroz turning out pro-quality comics and novels, all backed by direct reader funding.

At this point, someone usually raises the objection that all the crowdfunding platforms pay homage to the Death Cult, too. That's true, but they've shown themselves to be less ban-happy on the whole than their big brothers in Big Tech. Also, unlike Amazon, they don't go in for algorithmic monkey business, and they share sales info with their users. Indiegogo tells me where every dollar comes from, and when. It also does a good job of finding backers based on my campaign keywords. I enter "giant robots", and IGG shows my campaign to folks who are interested in giant robots. How novel!

That said, the current crowdfunding paradigm probably isn't the long-term answer. They'll eventually go all-in on the Cult's purge, too. But for the time being, they're providing a proof of concept for an eventual neo-patronage model for artists.

What would a mature neo-patronage model look like? In its highest form, you'd have billionaires assembling stables of pros to do books, paintings, movies, software, and pure science in-house. For those who are concerned about patrons exerting undue influence over the works produced, consider that the whole entertainment industry is now a propaganda factory for Leftist politics, and government-funded science is in the throes of a replicability crisis.

Also keep in mind that artists working under the original patronage system did in fact have considerable leeway in what they published. Machiavelli took subtle jabs at Lorenzo de' Medici in The Prince, and Galileo continued to publish even while under house arrest.

Most likely, patrons will select like-minded artists to sponsor. They'll furnish their court artisans with middle-class lifestyles and pretty much give them carte blanche, as long as the patron is thanked in the dedication.

Since most billionaires are currently Death Cult sympathizers, counterculture artists will have to avail themselves of a somewhat modified neo-patronage model. This system will be more like current crowdfunding, minus the middleman. We may be short on billionaires, but our side has a lot of upper-middle class engineers who like to read sci fi. As deplatformings increase, dissident readers will pool their resources to keep the books, comics, and video games they enjoy in production.

For a more in-depth treatment of neo-patronage, see my recent chat with author David Stewart on his Newpub Talk live stream. We cover a lot of ground, and it was a great discussion. Watch it here:


And while we're on the subject, don't forget to back my crowdfunder for Combat Frame XSeed: S! Every perk tier includes every eBook in the saga thus far, plus a new exclusive short story. So if you're a new reader, this is the perfect chance to jump in!

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier
Back it now!

10 comments:

  1. I have to play word salad on Amazon searches to find space opera buried under so many other things.

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    1. You're not the only one. It's baffling when you consider that Amazon is the third biggest search engine on the Internet, and they could make it work if they wanted to.

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  2. So...once again, I picked the wrong time to do something; I'm late, as usual. Well, I'm still going to write, and I'm still going to publish. The goal, I guess, is to get enough of a reader base that I can get somewhere with crowdfunding. We shall see what happens, but I'm not giving up now.

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    Replies
    1. It's still a great time to get in--as long as you're going indie. Ebook sales, which are newpub's bread and butter, had seen a slight decline, but now they're back up to holiday season levels.

      Start blogging every day, and build up your Twitter following and email list. AMS isn't for getting from zero to one. It's for authors who're already making 5 figures and want to get to 6.

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  3. The funny thing is that we are discussing 2nd and 3rd generation post-old publishing, while old publishing doesn't even realize it's finished. The speed of change can be frightening sometimes, even for those of us paying attention.

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    1. Chris

      Agreed. The lockdown has finished off the bookstores as conduit for big pub.

      In Spain you simply couldn't imagine the ree duringbthe first weeks. On the one hand I do sympathize with the workers on the other I don't when the bookstores take a 35% cut/book sold. The publisher takes a 45% cut.
      And when they didn't publish ebooks on major titles or the backlists.
      They bet on paper and lost a bundle

      xavier

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    2. Oldpub is dead. It's just not broke ... yet.

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    3. Brian

      It depends Where. In the English speaking world, the publishers still published ebooks however overpriced.
      In Spain, not do much due to the obsession to push paper.

      That obsession has cost very dearly. So dire not just publishing but vast sectors are broke and will go under without govt intervention.

      I didn't hear much from the French speaking but it's similar though not as dire.
      xavier

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  4. Curiosity: I've heard Baen is a little less lefty than the others?

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    1. Possibly. They're subject to the same market forces, though.

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