Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Lou Aronica of Fiction Studio Books
In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I talk to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture. This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses. How will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and economics?
I hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us better understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing, books and reading culture, and how we can ourselves both understand and influence the future of books and reading.
Lou Aronica is a long-time editor and publisher who left commercial publishing some years ago and then built a new career as a writer. In fact, I interviewed him in 2011 about his excellent fantasy sci-fi novel, Blue. Lou has been very successful as a writer and freelance editor. But over the past couple of years, Lou has continued exploring his publishing interests, most recently by founding a digital-first publishing imprint called Fiction Studio Books.
(I do recommend visiting his site and reading what he has to say about publishing in general and what Fiction Studio is all about).
Fiction Studio offers a different and in many ways unique model for writers. Lou is bringing to bear the most important traditional values of publishing – editorial and author development – that so many publishers today are no longer able or willing to provide in commercial publishing. By concentrating on quality and eliminating the overhead costs of print publishing, he has been able to begin to sketch out a workable structure for digital publishing of mainstream fiction that may be a useful model for the future, where the publisher provides real value and services that make sense for authors and readers. Lou calls this a “publishing culture” that benefits the books and the writers he publishes.
Importantly, Fiction Studio is selling a significant number of books, enough to make it a profitable business and not just an experiment in digital publishing. In its first year of existence, the imprint issued 14 titles.
Lou and I have often talked informally about the book business and the future. Typically I have learned alot from him and his experiences, past and present and always enjoy our talks. I think what he is doing now with this publishing program is tremendously important and should be inspirational to both publishers and authors.
Our conversation here covers a wide range of ideas and concepts drawn from his experience and reflecting his expansive vision of what a born-digital publishing company can and should look like. We talked about trends in digital publishing, how the role of the publisher is changing, the importance of editing and developing writers in the new digital marketplace, what makes a publisher meaningful and valuable to authors and to writers, ebook pricing models, and much, much more in this very wide-ranging conversation. To learn more, go to the website and read his essay about why he is publishing and the very active and interesting blog written by Fiction Studio authors as well.