Would you tell me more about this new paradigm in the publication of epic science fiction you keep talking about?


The traditional publishing model goes like this. After a process like a ritual mating dance, involving an author, a query, a proposal, a publisher, and usually an agent, a publisher will sometimes consider an author’s manuscript. If the editors, sales personnel and promoters working for the publisher like the manuscript and believe the book will have mass appeal, or at the very least a good sized niche market, the publisher may agree to publish it. A contract will be signed. The author will get an advance on future royalties. The manuscript will be given a thorough professional edit by the publishing house’s editors or by a freelance editor whose services are contracted for by the publisher. The author will do a rewrite. The manuscript will be proofread. And then the production, promotion and distribution of the book begins.

In the past a few established authors have named a minor character in a novel, or two or three characters, for individuals who have in return have made charitable contributions of an agreed upon amount to an agreed upon charity. In 2005 several established novelists auctioned off names in their upcoming novels to help fund a non-profit organization working for free speech rights, a worthy cause particularly dear to writers.

But in seeking sponsors for almost all the names in the Possibilities series and using the proceeds to finance the publishing of the series—with hopefully enough left over to serve the place of a modest advance on the novel—the author is trying something new.

Naming rights sponsorship may make it possible in future for authors to make a reasonable return on the inspiration and perspiration they invest in writing novels the traditional publishers would never touch because the work lacks the mass appeal to sell in the millions and make big money for the publisher, novels, nonetheless, which tens of thousands will heartily enjoy if the work ever makes it into print and becomes widely available to the reading public. Authors will be watching with great interest to see how well this experiment in independent self-publishing succeeds.

If the experiment succeeds, epic speculative fiction, fiction featuring a grand cast of characters in a world, a universe even, bursting with locations, creatures, foods, social institutions and customs and a cornucopia of other products of the author’s imagination, none of whom and none of which has ever before been named before, will receive a boost. Epic fiction is the perfect genre to finance through the sale of naming rights. With plenty of names to go around, the author can sell the limited rights to each name for an amount reasonable enough that an individual who wants to be associated with the book can afford them, and the author still can realize a living wage from the proceeds.