Neo-Patronage

As noted before on this site, the standard Amazon Workhorse method of making a living by cranking out book a month and building a mailing list is ill-suited to kids’ books as-is.

Well, it seems like it’s starting to peter out for the Amazon Workhorses too…

From Niemeier’s blog, Kairos:

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…

…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.

There’s a synergy between Niemeier and David V. Stewart here. Stewart contends on his YouTube channel that just as art went through historical stages like Baroque and Romantic, we are currently living through the death throes of an as-yet unrecognized Corporate period of art, where art has been mass distributed and controlled by large corporations.

The internet has struck the death blow to Corporate art, and we are just waiting for the thrashing to stop. What will rise in its place is neopatronage: art underwritten by the fans. Sometimes via crowdfunding, but often, Niemeier speculates, via one or two wealthy patrons per artist.

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…

…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.

I note that while big publishers are dying, small publishers with stables of three to twelve authors are springing up all over. I have my eye on the Mad Christian brand Rev Fisk is trying to bring about. But the small houses that I see give the impression of a hard struggle. They aren’t feeding their stables, they are only staying afloat because everyone involved is willing to lose money to create things they love. Maybe these are just growing pains. But maybe they are chasing a model that doesn’t work any more.

Maybe not. Baen is still in the book business rather than the lumber business, and they’ve been spared some of the recent depredations in the publishing industry because of it.

I am not wise enough to discern the matter.

I do not object to a publisher with editors and ad men to help me in making and selling my works. Adding a single proofreader improved my books significantly. But I’ve been loath to look into traditional publishing because A) I feel I am too ideologically tainted for most publishers, and B) I feel that ship is sinking. And I feel that the ship of tomorrow is being built somewhere in my immediate vicinity, and if I can only figure out which one it is…

But my fundamental guess is that the pattern will be the rise of small, decentralized networks of some sort. Clusters of patrons and creators rather than the handful of large creators carpeting the world. Small towns supporting their local artisans, though the towns are internet communities rather than physical communities.

In the mean time, God will continue to provide. And Amazon for all its social justice convergence and market domination has provided a means for me to make an illustrated book, print it out, read it to my kid, and sell it to anyone who takes an interest.

Stewart and Niemeier have discussed the concept at length on YouTube. I don’t recall if I’ve seen this one yet. I’ll be watching or rewatching it later, after I get some work done.

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