Trent Jamieson is having a big month in September. He is releasing two novels thereby proving his literary ambidexterity.
The Business of Death is the third and final instalment of his Death Works novels (which began with Death Most Definite, continued with Managing Death). I interviewed Trent about his debut trilogy last year and he has gone from strength to strength since I first met him as a Clarion South tutor in 2009.
His second book, Roil, is a new story and as good as all his book covers are, this one is particularly attractive. Here is the blurb for it:
Shale is in trouble. A vast, chaotic, monster-bearing storm known only as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land.
Where once there were twelve great cities, now only four remain, and their borders are being threatened by the growing cloud of darkness. The last humans are fighting back with ever more bizarre new machines. But one by one the defences are failing. And the Roil continues to grow.
With the land in turmoil, it’s up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year-old man, and a young woman intent on revenge to try to save their city – and the world.
It is being published by Angry Robot and they have a nifty little in-page app that lets you read a sample chapter: http://issuu.com/angryrobot/docs/roil-samplechapter
I asked Trent for his take on the changes occurring across the publishing world at the moment and he was kind enough to share these thoughts:
1. Regarding self-publishing and e-publishing, what is your impression of the changing advice given, or information available, to emerging writers?
There's a flood of it at the moment, and a lot of it looks less like advice than anecdotal material, which is fine, except, like in every business, every writer is going to have a different experience and different outcomes. There are so many different tools and pathways open to a writer now, and what's right for one may not be right for another. Which is really me just saying, I don't know. And I tend to be a bit suspicious of people that say they do.
2. Would you advocate traditional approaches to publishing over self-publishing? Why? Why not?
Honestly, you don't want my advice on that! But I have loved working with the editorial team at Orbit, and am enjoying working with Angry Robot. I thrive on editorial input, and I worry when I don't get it. But not everyone is like that, and some people write extremely clean prose. Me I like a good editorial kicking. And there's all sorts of things that publishers do in getting your work out there, that is much, much harder when you do it alone. Still some people like a challenge.
Either way, what it comes down to is finding a way to say, 'Hey, here's my stories.' and, hopefully, finding an audience, that's the hardest part, and it's only going to get harder. You don't engage people then you don't make a living, but, still, the first person you have to engage is yourself, or you're waisting your time (and any potential audience's time) and even then your audience is more likely than not going to be small.
It's still important to separate the writing from the business of writing, and it's still important to write regardless of the approach you use.
3. Fast forward five years. Using your speculative fiction mega-skills, what do you think the publishing / writing industry will look like?
Firstly we'll all drive flying cars, and all editing will be done by creatures that look like those harvesting robots in the Matrix.
I'm sure there'll still be publishers, and bookstores, and writers. I actually think publishers are adapting better than people give them credit for - there's an awful lot of resentment to publishers that blinds people to just what they're capable of. I think books will be cheaper and margins tighter, but the potential audience may actually be about to hit a growth spurt - that's my gut feeling anyway. And, if the next few years don't kill them, Indie bookstores are going to become real hubs of the community, and we may even see a few more of them spring up.
Print books will become increasingly sidelined, without ever going away completely, and e-books will grow (a lot of them read by those Matrix robot things) as will enhanced e-books (books with all manner of multi-media trappings). So you'll see print stories that run the spectrum from purely print to something that is a hybrid (so things that are more and less bookish), though I think those hybrids are going to be relatively rare until people can make video that doesn't just look like second-rate amateur film.
Authors will still be chasing the dream and there will be plenty more of them. Standing out in the crowd is going to be even harder than it is right now, but some people will. I think the real money makers in the industry will be those who've set themselves up as e-publishing consultants, or book cover designers.
Hell, I really don't know what I'm talking about, and I'm rambling. But, ultimately in five years time I'm sure there's still going to be a publishing and a writing industry, I'm less sure that anyone really knows what it'll be like.
Trent's own website is here.