It was January 2018. I'd been sitting on the idea for Tendrils to the Moon for a year. The divided reactions to The Last Jedi sent up a mushroom cloud of a signal that a large and growing market wasn't being served by mainstream entertainment. And I was in the middle of reading David V Stewart's Needle Ash series, which proved to this neophyte there was quality writing coming out of self-publishing. The dam penning up my creativity burst, and I blasted out my debut novel in 5 months.
Back then, it felt like self-publishing vs. tradpub was an open question on which reasonable minds could differ. My lack of success in getting an agent in the aughts and my eagerness to get my writing in people's hands all but guaranteed I would self-publish. For a while part of me kept an open mind about going the tradpub route in the future. My mind is closed now. All the evidence I've seen since I started writing again has pushed me closer to regarding self-publishing as the default.
Including this account I saw on Twitter:
After tradpub lost its monopoly on the printing press at the turn of the century, its raison d'être has been quality control. Self-publishing is full of snake oil salesmen and greasy-haired televangelists, so it goes. Best to leave it to professionals to filter out the trash so readers won't be swindled out of their money. This would be fine if it was true.
If you know where and how to look, self-published books are on par with traditionally published books in terms of production value. As for giving readers what they want, self-published books have a clear edge. There are few impediments in the flow of information between a self-published writer and his audience. His success depends on satisfying one person: the customer. He doesn't have to please a dozen Manhattanites with niche sensibilities first.
The tradpub environment was stifling enough before last year. I would characterize what the industry is going through now, evidenced above, as a moral panic. There are two ways to react to panic: mobilize resources to meet the threat, or do nothing. Tradpub mobilized. Agents and editors poured resources into a dubious cause when they should have been focusing on putting good books in readers' hands.
I don't see it getting better anytime soon. Changes in acquisitions processes tend to reflect in new books hitting the shelves at least 12 to 18 months later, so the damage won't be fully felt until 2022.
Two fantasy books that I'm currently neck-deep in on Kindle Vella are Stewart's The Bright Children and TJ Marquis's Children of Asha. Both feature young female protagonists. Not to put too fine a point on it, the authors are neither young nor female. Nor do the settings resemble anything anyone has experienced in the real world. And I couldn't care less because that's the point of fantasy. Imagination is your only qualification. I recommend these books for your entertainment and the enrichment of your life.
If sci-fi is your preferred flavor, check out Seeds of Calamity and Tendrils to the Moon. You can find extended previews for each here and here. As always, let me know what you think in the comments. I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able.