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

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#21
Publishers may be losing income, but they're still the first place most talented writers look to publish their work.
Really - not anymore. SOME authors but by no means the majority and by no means the first choice for many talented writers.
The biggest sales fall of any demograph of writers has been trad debut writers. It is astounding how much their income has fallen - and these are career ruining falls (because low debut sales impact on every future release) Frankly many writers take one look at the fate of many trad debuts (low sales, dropped on the back of it) and decide to build a different way.

Many dedicated self publishers aren't doing it because they can't get a publisher - but because they don't feel getting a publisher is important in the current climate.

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.
Yes - and for all sectors of the genre. Dennis E Taylor gave up his day job on the back of audio sales. The big self publishers make the bulk of their income through them
Plus - the authors you name are all well established and predate the shifts in the market we've seen in the past few years.


Top authors are signing 7 figure deals for upcoming books, shows, films, etc.
I struggle to name a single non-established trad author who has done this. The nearest might be Adrian Tchaikovsky who has been publishing for years.



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.
And yet they let Andy Weir, Michael J Sullivan, Hugh Howey, Jodi Taylor, and many others slip through their fingers.

Sorry. I know this might burst bubbles but for the vast, vast majority of authors a traditional debut, with no previous record or following, is a career risk. Which is why so many of us are coming through in other ways - and why the breakthrough trad authors are few and far between.

And the losers are the readers :( with less new quality material coming out (all but the biggest authors have day jobs so produce less) and much of it emerging through channels that are harder for the reader to find them in.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#22
I'm not suggesting that you can show up to a publisher with a manuscript and sign a 7-figure deal. Of course this only applies to the biggest hits, things that are already market tested. But Ernest Cline signed a 7-figure deal for his 3rd book, as well as a iirc 7-figure deal for the movie rights to his first book, despite a mediocre second book. He was considered very new at the time of the movie deal. Red Rising, a debut, came out in late January 2014, and a 7 figure deal for the movie rights appears to have been made within a week of its release. Yes, most of the big movie and TV deals have involved established authors, but that's still an incentive for new writers, or writers who have been working for 10+ years on their first book. So many kids wouldn't want to grow up to play in the NBA if the pros were making modest incomes.

I'm skeptical of the claim that most new debut authors don't bother seeking out a publisher. Aren't even the disappointing sales numbers for the average traditional published debuts considerably higher than for the majority of self-published debuts?
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#23
I'm skeptical of the claim that most new debut authors don't bother seeking out a publisher. Aren't even the disappointing sales numbers for the average traditional published debuts considerably higher than for the majority of self-published debuts?
It's very hard to get direct comparative data so this is pulled from trends (one of the sites with good data is this: http://authorearnings.com/report/print-vs-digital-report/).

The vast majority of books sell very few - via both channels. EbooK sales have been dominated by the self publishers (and indie publishers) but there has been a shrink and a shift.

A trad published author will undoubtedly tend to sell more paper books than a sp. but ebooks are harder to quantify - and there is good evidence that the big publishers set prices too high for debut writers who the struggle in the market. People will pay full whack for a King release - but not the new, untried, debut.

And, yeah.... I have many writer friends (trad and self, pro and hobbyist) and the vast majority of them don't seek agents.

Ironically since I'm giving this side of the argument I'm currently agent seeking - without breaking my heart if it doesn't happen - and hope to get a trad deal (I neatly did it with Inish so why not?) but I have a small following, I have a backlist I control, I'm in a good place. I feel, to expand.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#24
I'm skeptical of the claim that most new debut authors don't bother seeking out a publisher. Aren't even the disappointing sales numbers for the average traditional published debuts considerably higher than for the majority of self-published debuts?
Its at least pretty close to a 50-50 split from what I've seen and I'm 50-50 on what I want for when I make the jump myself.

And I think a well publicised SP debut is as capable of earning as much as the average trad pubbed, and is arguably better for your career profile.

Also... while there are mountains of money to be made at the top of the industry i.e. if you attract film deals for films that are actually made, its not like the NBA in that everyone's getting paid. Its more like some people are LeBron but everyone else is making janitor money. If they're lucky. Plus you can still be that LeBron as self-pubbed.

Plus Brown and Cline aren't Epic Fantasy. No one's throwing money at the big Epic Fantasy writers for film rights last I checked.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#25
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.
Thing about the publishing industry needing new blood is that authors have a long shelf life and the industry has limited shelf space. They only need a thin trickle and frankly, does it really matter where they find the authors? It certainly doesn't to them save for the caveat that authors who start self-published are likelier to go back to self-published if they don't like the trad publisher's terms.

That said - yes, I would agree that there hasn't been an explosion of talent in the last few years. I think the answers in Morte's great books of the last 3 years kinda reinforces the point here.
 

TomTB

The Master Tweeter
Staff member
#31
Are you posting authors that you like Ken, or are you posting authors that you think have widespread appeal who have really struck a chord the last few years?
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#32
Responding to the opening post Tom. What are you doing?
 

Davis Ashura

Told lies with Locke
#37
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.
I hope it's a lull and nothing more, but I've never seen one like this before. I first noticed it (and I wasn't the first to point it out) when Mark Lawrence published a fairly exhaustive list of bestselling epic fantasy books based on the number of Goodreads ratings they received. I was surprised by how starting at around 2013, few (if any) newly published authors made the list. It's only an observation right now, but I hope it doesn't become a trend. After all, we've also seen disruptive technologies make mincemeat of once proud companies, like newspapers, music publishers, and now TV and movie studios. I don't want book publishers to be added to that list.
Then again, maybe it's just the worrier in me.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#38
I hope it's a lull and nothing more, but I've never seen one like this before. I first noticed it (and I wasn't the first to point it out) when Mark Lawrence published a fairly exhaustive list of bestselling epic fantasy books based on the number of Goodreads ratings they received. I was surprised by how starting at around 2013, few (if any) newly published authors made the list. It's only an observation right now, but I hope it doesn't become a trend. After all, we've also seen disruptive technologies make mincemeat of once proud companies, like newspapers, music publishers, and now TV and movie studios. I don't want book publishers to be added to that list.
Then again, maybe it's just the worrier in me.
It has, by my best understanding, already happened. A once proud and beautiful roast dinner has been turned into meatballs.

But there's still something to be said for meatballs. And I think what you're seeing is just"One of those things" and has very little long term repercussions. They have enough fantasy big hitters for the time being and the only thing that would really move the needle for them is a writer who can turn non-fantasy fans into fantasy-fans. And those don't exist in epic fantasy imo.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#39
Would Sanderson, Abercrombie, Martin, Jordan, Rothfuss, Erikson, etc. have failed to publish their first books successfully in today's publishing world? Or would they publish with rubbish sales numbers and fail to follow through on book 2? I'm skeptical. I think the high end is probably safe from the publishing chaos. At the margins, the least confident gambles made by publishers, publisher economics are probably devastating.

There's a lot of moving pieces here. One is that digital media is easy to pirate, so in the shift to digital we might expect to see total number of buyers decrease, while the number of actual readers stays flat or even increases. GoT season 7 was apparently pirated over a billion times; I suspect the digital text/audio versions have also been pirated more often than purchased.

Another is that since the 90s and early 2000s, the sheer quality of epic fantasy has improved considerably (imo). Gone are the days of easy, cheesy epic fantasy, with 100% recycled/"borrowed" tropes, homogeneous casts, romanticized medieval Europe, and pseudo-biblical Evil as a personified force. Not that weren't plenty of top-notch books, but I think there were tons more mediocre books than today, or at least they were published and marketed more successfully. Each new innovative book carves away at the limited pool of ideas that readers might be interested in exploring, making it harder and harder to find something unique and interesting to write about. Many of the low-hanging fruit of good ideas wrt world building, characterization, and magic systems are already picked. I think these trends are probably more impactful at the high end than the economic struggles of publishing companies. We'll still see works of 10+ years of part-time dedication published to great acclaim; authors who did most of the work on their own then got snatched up by publishers who immediately recognize the brilliance of the submitted work.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#40
There are three things which are severely limiting the list.

1. The four years interval - this, for the most part, would mean people with no more than 2 books, at best three, who've managed to put some noise out there. Very often you'd need more than that to get established enough.

2. The epic fantasy part. It's probably the second most limiting factor here. Epic fantasy is just a sub-genre from the much bigger variety of fantasy manifestations.

3. My personal experience on the matter. I am not making it a point to read everything new that comes along, so there are probably a number of things which are good, but I haven't gotten to yet.

Here's a list of the people who've made an impression on me, although nothing on the Brandon Sanderson/Abercrombie/Martin/Lynch level. But maybe Pierce Brown deserves a place among those giants, who knows...

Pierce Brown with his trilogy, Brian Stavely, Nicholas Eames with Kings of the Wyld, Jonathan Renshaw with Dawn of Wonder, Leigh Bardugo with her Six of Crows duology( she was an established YA author, but that was kind of her debut in the fantasy genre with only a moderate amount of romance in the plot), Peter Newman with The Vagrant, Travis Bagwell with his Awaken Online books, Katherine Arden with The Bear and the Nightingale, Jon Skovron with Hope and Red, RJ Barker with Age of Assassins, Sabaa Tahir with An Ember in the Ashes.

I've tried to order them by quality, although it's still my personal opinion, so there a lot of subjectivity that comes with the list. :)