Wednesday, July 12, 2006

John Ordover vs. George Zebroski on Publishing (the gloves are off!)

Posted by Trent Walters at 1:12 PM
Thus JO refutes GZ:
Publishing is a slippery business.
They're putting much money at risk: 150,000 into a book
POV to both sides
Fantasy outsells SF 20:1 or 5:1
SF is everything and anything it wants to be. No one way to do it right, except a way to market it better.
SF fears being derivitive.
Good or bad, world considers SF as space opera.
Fantasy derided for being cookie-cutter, but for readers, they know who and where they are within 10 pages. Get comfortable in 2-3 min.
Some books are so new/original they’re difficult to get into.
Lensmen are superheroes who use the force.
Asimov/Heinlein/Clarke -- still occupy similar milieu.
SF working against itself [by trying to always make it new].
Literary borrows SF tropes, but that doesn’t mean that SF should borrow from literary tropes [I ought to have questioned him to which tropes he referred].
David Drake, John Ringo, Bujold -- the closer to space opera, the better selling.
Mystery audience expects murder early on. What if don’t solve murder? [It wouldn't sell. Therefore,] Some different ideas are bad ideas.
Asimov convinced reader someone else did it, then convinced reader who real murderer is.
Sharon Lee/Steve Miller turned old fantasy tropes into SF ones, which is what George Lucas did.
New and original doesn’t always make money, but sometimes it does. Sometimes editor may be too well read where they reject old idea that may be good to revisit with today’s sensibility.
Definition of SF: Anything that has SF tropes: Robots, aliens, time travel, set in future, new level of technology.

I brought up Kevin Brockmeier’s “The Ceiling,” an interstitial story for which I developed a cool theory about interstitial fiction that nobody was interested in--theory cached here, so it may not exist in this world much longer--but it isn't SF because it doesn't examine the SF'nal phenomenon. After I brought this up, JO altered his definition somewhat.
Innovation should be 5% of what is published. Bread and butter is old tropes reworked. (Later said, 10% innovation). Weave into production.
Not enough Space opera being done. The reason tie-ins made in-roads because tie-ins provided more space opera needed--the bread-and-butter universe.
The farther from tropes, the fewer the readers.
Asimov lauded for robots that didn’t rebel and for universe populated only by humans. It needs only to be initially familiar.
CSI popular because of this.

Publisher POV: Fast but okay story writers fill in for writers that don’t fulfill. Splitting novels in half sell three times as many of a novel than if it were only one. Harder to generate sense of wonder for those who’ve seen it all. Sometimes, sense of wonder is what is generated.

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