If all you see in an industry are weak stories, look at its business model. Where there’s systematic weakness, it probably means there’s a system that’s broken down.
The anime and American comic industries are good examples. They’re totally broken. It’s not that there aren’t animators, writers, and directors who want to make wonderful anime, it’s that they’re beholden to the BD/DVD-buying demographics that determine their profitability. Likewise, the writers and artists of the American comic industry are shackled to endless superhero reboots because it’s those fans who have proven themselves willing to buy overpriced periodicals.
Movies and manga are a mixed bag. Movies benefit from the movie going experience, and that has value even if more and more movies are consumed in other ways. Manga is twisted by the magazines that publish it, but its low cost relative to anime means that risks can be taken, even if some of the potential stars never get a chance to truly bloom.
Then there’s American TV. Forget the endless police procedurals – when we’re getting shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, 30 Rock, and Mad Men, we’re doing something right. What happened, when Firefly got kicked off the air not long ago? I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve heard rumors it’s because advertisers have learned the value of supporting critically acclaimed shows, and are paying accordingly. The highly motivated fans these series bring in, if they line up with an advertiser’s target market, are marketing gold.
So what about the industry I aim to enter, publishing? If you’re trying to get conventionally published, it’s somewhere South of manga but not quite as weak as American comics or anime. Your chances of getting published are low, your chances of getting supported once published are even lower still, but if you get lucky you can still make money doing it.
But what about independent ebooks? Ahhh, now there’s an industry with a fine business model. Sure, you have to do most of the work yourself, but if you’re willing to do that then there’s no one standing in your way. Write the stories you want to write, find the audience who wants to read them, and fail or prosper on your own terms. That’s the business model for me.
If all you see is weak stories in an industry, look for a weak business model, and if you have a choice, choose to enter an industry whose robust business model will aid you in your success. Humans are only as good as the systems they find themselves in, so do yourself a favor and pick a good one.