The best Trad Published epic fantasy authors who got their start in the past 4 years?

Davis Ashura

Mixes poisons and sharpens knives with Kylar
I'm wracking my brains trying to figure this one out. All industries need new blood, and the same holds true for publishing.

And yet, I'm drawing a blank on this one. Who have the trad publishing houses found in the past 4 years who we all think will be the next great writer? The next Mark Lawrence, Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, much less the next Sanderson or Jordan? And I don't mean mining someone who originally made his/her name as an indie author, like Anthony Ryan. I mean someone who came up the old fashioned way.

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
Epic fantasy struggles to get picked up these days. Well, frankly, everything struggles to get picked up these days.... The length of book puts publishers off as it's a risk, and, whisper it, it's probably not one of the massively in vogue genres at the moment. Assuming it can be extended past Epic into the likes of Grimdark (where Lawrence sits), then there have been 3 big debuts this year: Blackwing by Ed McDonald is probably the one most poised to be the next-best-thing but Anna Stephen's Godblind and Anna Spark Smith's Court of Broken Knives have both made splashes this month, and all three are from the trad route.


Journeyed there and back again
For the little its worth, all of those were published in 2013 or earlier. The 4 year qualification is completely arbitrary, but most of those don't make that arbitrary cut.

I don't think there's anything important or consequential in the original observation, though. Sometimes we get a bunch of talented authors publishing their first work around the same time, and sometimes there's a lull.

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
He's been around a bit longer than 4 years. He was with Night Shade Books in 2011 for a series called the Lays of Anuskaya (I think?), though he had to self-publish the last one when Night Shade went belly-up. Then he signed on with DAW for his current series.


Journeyed there and back again
I mean, I feel like he's making more of a general comment on the state of traditional publishing, rather than soliciting names of authors within 4 years specifically. "No, that doesn't count, s/he published 4 years AND FIVE DAYS ago!" It's not a secret that 'traditional publishing' hasn't been doing so well, and that they are getting beaten down by Amazon and e-books. Four years is an arbitrary time (and far too little time to measure the downfall of ANY industry), but there's something to say for the industry's steadily dropping willingness to take chances. And 'epic fantasy,' which has never been the most popular genre, certainly constitutes taking a chance.

Whether there's anything consequential about the observation remains to be seen. We'll know if/when a major epic fantasy series comes out before one of the Big 5 gets shuttered. The amount of times professional boxing has been 'dying' at this point now probably outnumbers the amount of times it has been 'healthy.' And yet somehow these people still keep getting paid millions to box. Any snapshot of a short window of time isn't going to be representative of much.


Journeyed there and back again
Publishers may be losing income, but they're still the first place most talented writers look to publish their work. The incentives for writers themselves, particularly the genre-redefining authors of quality comparable to Martin, Jordan, and Abercrombie, seem to have grown larger. Audiobooks, ebooks, and film seem to be on the rise for the genre. Top authors are signing 7 figure deals for upcoming books, shows, films, etc. And if you can't attract a publisher's attention, self-publishing is now an actually somewhat viable way to becoming a full-time author, or at least recoup some cash for your efforts.

I think that incentives for authors are a better predictor of genre growth trends than publisher profits. Most of the best of those authors will still publish through traditional publishers. Those publishers aren't too likely to let the next Martin or Jordan slip through their fingers.