UK SFF publishing shrinking?

Brian G Turner

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In an interview, literary agent Louise Buckley makes a stark comment on the state of SFF publishing in the UK:

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent, Louise Buckley

"Currently, the UK science fiction and fantasy publishing industry is experiencing a slight contraction and there are fewer editors seeking novels in these areas, compared to a few years ago. Therefore, John Berlyne, the owner of the agency, made the decision at the end of last year to bring in someone who could represent authors writing in other areas too: me!"

Not good news that the UK SFF publishing industry is shrinking, that editors aren't buying in SFF books, and that Zeno - as a specialist SFF literary agency - is having to diversify.

Astonishing, really, when you think on how George R R Martin has brought epic fantasy into the mainstream again.
 
Unsurprising that it's Romance that Zeno is branching out into, given the demographics of who reads fiction these days.
 
It does seem odd. Consider the biggest film franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, James Bond). Two of them are SFF. Lord of the Rings (and the wider Tolkien world) has had a massive resurgence.

It's a little perplexing.
 
It does seem odd. Consider the biggest film franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, James Bond). Two of them are SFF. Lord of the Rings (and the wider Tolkien world) has had a massive resurgence.

It's a little perplexing.
Sadly people watch the films rather than read the books.
 
Just to add: Adam Roberts: On Success and Orientation

Although Simon Spanton (no longer with Gollancz IIRC) said to me on 15/5/15: "The market is insanely tough at the moment and we are looking to reduce the number of books we publish."

So a reduction in new SF/F books being published started at least last year.
 
Fantasy almost never changes over the years and decades. It's SF that typically experiences massive ups and downs.

Below is a graph of new novels that I have compiled from the stats in Best New SF by Gardner Dozois. These stats are acknowledged to have come from Locus magazine.

Slide1.jpg


Please note that Paranormal Fantasy was introduced only in 2007 and most, if not all, of those novels were taken out of the fantasy section.

As you can see, from 2009 to 2015 inclusive, science fiction has been increasing its number of new novels. From about 2012, it is the fantasy that has been, overall when taking paranormal fantasy into account, decreasing. Horror has been roughly holding its own since 2005.

Hope this helps.
 
stats in Best New SF by Gardner Dozois

I'd love to know more about the sources Dozois uses - markets covered, publishers referenced, etc. I presume he can't simply be referring to Big 6 in all English-language markets, and the stats include a lot of indies, too?
 
I'd love to know more about the sources Dozois uses - markets covered, publishers referenced, etc. I presume he can't simply be referring to Big 6 in all English-language markets, and the stats include a lot of indies, too?

The stats Gardner Dozois uses come from the Locus news magazine. They have a list of publishers on their site which can be found at Locus Online: Links: Publishers - as you can see, it includes a lot more than the big six. However, I can think of a couple newly established publishers that are not on the list.
 

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