Well, anyone following the box office — and really why should anyone follow the box office? — has noticed by now that Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter went belly up, like John Carter before it, like Cowboys vs. Aliens before it, like Wild Wild West before it. And on the small screen, Firefly failed a decade after Brisco County Jr. failed.
How do I feel, having seen the evidence that moviegoers and TV watchers hate hate hate Western science fiction and space Westerns? (A clinical explanation of the difference between those two genres will have to await another day.) The very genre in which I work. Well, I feel … vindicated?
I got a couple of queries from genuine Hollywood moguls when my book first started getting a little press, and while I would have been happy with the money (to the extent that I’m ever happy with anything), I felt pretty sure that I wasn’t what they were looking for. There is absolutely a place for weird stuff like this in today’s popular culture, but weird stuff doesn’t generally land at #1 on the box office charts.
Some of us continue, still, today, to cling to Westerns, to watch old Sergio Leone movies and even reruns of Maverick, and to insist that said Westerns are great — as we also contend with respect to John Carter, Brisco County and Firefly — and we are, you know, absolutely right. But we won’t convince most of you. As I’ve written before, the only thing that most Americans know today about Westerns is that they don’t like them, but aren’t sure exactly why.
So this is where the Indie book industry comes in. Indie books are not for writers who cannot get published because they are bad, nor for writers who cannot get published because they don’t know the right people. It’s for good writers who take a step out of the mainstream, and who might inspire wild devotion among those who notice, but not the sort of universal wild devotion that will make them #1 at the box office.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now would be the time for me to quote myself quoting critic and novelist Charles de Lint writing about Indie author Sara Kuhns’s novel, A Sigh for Life’s Completion, but, aware of Jonah Lehrer’s problems with self-plagiarism, I’ll just supply a link instead. Needless to say, he sees a place for Indie authors in today’s publishing world and justifies it better than I ever could.
What do you think?