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Published:May 8th, 2012 13:52 EST
Dearth of Book Sales: Are Sci-fi Books a Lost Art or a Lost Cause?

Dearth of Book Sales: Are Sci-fi Books a Lost Art or a Lost Cause?

By Sean Stubblefield


I was dismayed and saddened when I read this blog post from indie sci-fi author Robert Stikmanz after a recent convention  appearance:

"There was also a pronounced dearth of book and art sales. At the end of the day (or con, as it were), book and art sales are what the process is about for Robert Stikmanz, The Hidden Lands of Nod and Confabule. It doesn`t matter so much if the sales are from hours at the table we staff in a dealer room, or if the sales are downstream from the event in the form of web orders for books and e-books. What matters is that there are sales as a result of the activity. Science fiction/fantasy conventions are entertaining events at which one meets many wonderful, delightful, fascinating people. Unfortunately, in this latter day most of them are people who do not buy books and art."  

Which, alas, forces him to put his Hidden Lands of Nod project on the back burner.

A couple of years ago, I met Robert Stikmanz, and his assistant Amanda Kimmerly, at ApolloCon-- where he had a table promoting his new books. He and Amanda were passionate, intelligent and erudite in their promotions. I was so impressed-- not merely with them as people, but with the bold and innovative ideas they presented...that I immediately bought his entire trilogy.

Being frugal, poor and highly selective in my reading material, this on the spot purchase is rare for me. This was no impulse buy, no frivolous or casual expense, nor the result of an overwhelming sales pitch.

Indeed, at the time, I was woefully unemployed. But I wanted to read these stories. I needed to read them. Besides, as an indie author myself, I like to support other indie authors when I can, to take a chance and give them a try. And it was absolutely worth the money and risk.

Stikmanz has created a uniquely marvelous and "well crafted tale" a whole universe, ingeniously blending sci-fi and fantasy with mythology and urban legend. I highly and enthusiastically recommend these genre-crossing fantasy novels, "The Hidden Lands of Nod". 

Having read his amazing trilogy, it is regrettable that it is not finding the audience and attention it deserves.

His lack of sales is not an unusual case; I`ve heard the same unfortunate report from many independent authors. Advertising my own books at these conventions has also failed to attract reader/ buyers. Whether novels or short stories, indie authors are suffering this absence of audience.

That this is so-- could be so-- astounds and confounds me mightily. How can it be that so many attendees of a sci-fi con "especially a con like ApolloCon that favors literature over other media forms" are abundantly not interested in new sci-fi books? Why are they even there, if not to support and celebrate sci-fi stories? How is new science fiction literature--- and its authors "going to thrive is its own fandom will not support it? Eagerness in new stories seems a reasonable response and expectation, right? Isn`t it mutually beneficial for sci-fi fans to buy-- to want-- to buy-- sci-fi books? 

Taryn O`Neill-- actress, writer and web-series producer-- recently posted this keen and relevant observation on her blog:

This industry of entertainment needs to redeem itself, for it shapes the myths that define our society and which will influence the malleable generations to come. We need to stop with  `reboots` and  `sequels`, pandering to the Establishment`s nostalgia and fear of our digital paradigm shift.  We have to begin to innovate and create again. We have to embrace big dreams, and with them, the technology and science that will make them possible. We can create a better future if we paint the picture now. But you can`t do that if you don`t feel the wonder of it all.

So why don`t you. 

Seems to me that a big part of this sentiment would include" must necessarily include-- contributing to and desiring new science fiction stories... in ALL kinds of media.

So why don`t you?