I’ve been thinking a lot about worn out tropes and market size.

One thing I recall from the short story anthollgy workshop I did, and then further seen in some ‘don’t send in’ list for shorts is that they do not want, among other things, your game campaign / game books.

It’s just not something editors want to see because they’ve seen that a dozen, a thousand times. There’s nothing (to them) unique or interesting or fun about seeing the thousandth book about a party of a dwarf, elf and humans, running around solving quests.

All of these stories are an auto decline.

Obviously, I write in the LitRPG genre. I even make a living off my sales from the writing. 

So who is wrong?

Neither, really I think.

I think the question at the end of hte day is one of market size.

If there was not a demand for these stories, we writers would not keep sending them in to these poor editors (after all, we love the stories and thus that’s why we write them). Us writers and a smaller number of readers, etc want to see these works.

Thus the birth of the entire LitRPG and Gamelit genre. 

And there’s always been a little demand for it out there. Enough that works like Joel Rosenbergs Guardians of the Flame or Otherworld by Tad Williams are well beloved.

Yet… it’s not a huge market. There’s a cap on it. I have a saying that the LitRPG ‘floor’ is pretty low for the first book, but it’s generally higher than $0. It’s not as flooded, it’s got this well of voracious but smaller readership. So most books will sell something, especially for book 1.

However, we also have a much shorter ceiling. And this is where all those jaded eyes – publishing editors, agents, etc. – are right. The ceiling for LitRPG is much, much lower than say, epic fantasy or military scifi or crime.

There are readers, but fewer. And even reaching the fewer readers there are takes more money since you have to spread a much wider net to do so, meaning that you’re forced to find both interested and uninterested parties.

It’s why trad pub editors and agents all decline such work. Their job was to find the interesting and unique that would appeal to the mass audiences, something new and fun even if they never realised it themselves.

While worn out tropes are neither – but they are comforting and comfortable and for some readers, some writers, it’s something we want.  

Just not that many.

As an indie published author though, you don’t need to appeal to a giant audience. Having a smaller audience that is hungry can (if the audience is big enough) sustain your career. We don’t have giant overhead, multiple levels between us. We get 70% of our sales price. So, we have to sell, quite literally 7 times less than a trad pub author to make a living.

We just might never earn as much as JK Rowling. 

And that’s fine with me. 

(Though I wouldn’t mind a couple of million)

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