1. RightWrite

    RightWrite Active Member

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    The fate of genre fiction?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by RightWrite, Apr 3, 2019.

    I read many articles online which say that readership for genre fiction has sharply declined over the years. Many say that TV, movies, and the internet are to blame. Here is one of those articles:

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/17/us-losing-appetite-for-reading-fiction-research-finds

    I'm hoping to make a decent side income from writing genre fiction, but, in my opinion, reaching for millions or even a six-figure income is a foolish dream. I think this is a valid claim not only because of the general decline in readership, but the saturated influx of new writers to the craft of genre fiction. After all, one does not need a college degree or advanced academic training to write fiction. Some brains, a computer, ideas, knowledge of fiction writing rules, and creativity are all that's needed. So, given these trends, is it actually reasonable to hope for millions or even a six-figure income with genre fiction writing? Is that a possibility with traditional publishing compared to self publishing? Or do you share my observation of a dismal fate for genre fiction? What's your opinion?
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Making that kind of income with fiction writing had always been a dream, and one that the vast majority of those who want to write would never come anywhere close to. You’re probably better off now than a few decades ago unless you were going to be a Stephen King or someone with that kind of success.
     
  3. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    This is like dithering over pursuing a career as an NFL quarterback. Becoming a popular and well paid author has always been unlikely. It requires enormous skill, amazing luck and a series of highly unique ideas.
     
  4. RightWrite

    RightWrite Active Member

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    What do you guys think about the general decline in genre fiction readership? Do you guys think it is going to get worse?
     
  5. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    All readership is in decline and has been for decades. I'm not surprised if the less serious genres are the first to go - those folks aren't necessarily dedicated to reading as much as they are dedicated to a certain aesthetic - and those can be found in other media with increasing ease.

    But, there is probably a point where the decline will level out and the market will bump along at a useful level.
     
  6. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    I think that unless someone here is in the publishing business, their opinion on the matter isn't worth anything. I'm sure if you searched the internet you could find a variety of much better-informed opinions on the future of genre.
     
  7. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    I'm skeptical of the statistics here. The study cited is based off of a survey of 30,000 people. Asking people is an unreliable source of data, the process for selecting the sample group and the wording of the questions can introduce error. In trying to evaluate how the book industry is doing, I would look at statistics like sales and revenue for starters.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 8.36.16 PM.png

    Source:
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/271931/revenue-of-the-us-book-publishing-industry/

    It's not trending up or anything but it seems pretty stable.

    What is growing: ebook sales and audiobook sales.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=ebook+sales+by+years&tbm=isch

    Ebooks and Audiobooks do not require significant investment in physical inventory, since they're just sold online through sites like Amazon and Audible. That lowers the barrier for entry for folks like you and I, because they require lower upfront investment on the part of publishers. They still print books for the bookstores but they have to print 50% less, assuming that 50% of sales are ebooks, which is probably generous in favor of the bookstore. And I am skeptical that the number of people writing books scales disproportionately to the number of people reading them as population increases. Even if there are more writers at the low end, the world of publishing is fairly meritocratic. Working hard correlates well with getting published. The people who work the hardest get the rewards. Seems pretty fair to me. If someone puts more effort into writing than me then they probably deserve to get published more than I do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
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  8. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Just a small point - unless the chart is in adjusted dollars, $26.5 billion from 2008 is $31 billion today. Meanwhile the population has gone up in the US by 20 million. Per capita, that's down 20% in ten years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  9. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    Good points, though that's still introducing a lot of variables into the mix that are difficult to accurately weigh. It seems more a failure to grow on the face of it than it does a decline -- the numbers aren't drastically going down in absolute terms, they're just not going up at the rate that many other industries are. People aren't putting down books.
     
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  10. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Just trying to make the comparison apples to apples.

    But I agree reading isn't going away - a $23 billion industry isn't on the precipice.
     
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  11. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Yes, readership is down. But audiobook sales more than make up for those losses.
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure it always was. I don't really feel that a modest reduction in the number of readers is what makes that true. Even if every single published novelist doubled, tripled, quadrupled their sales, most of them wouldn't be earning enough to live on--and that would have been true ten or twenty or thirty years ago.

    (No, I don't have cites to offer. If I'm wrong, I'd be curious to know.)
     
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