The Internet may become sentient in Robert J. Sawyer's new novel Wake, but there's one thing it won't do any time soon, according to Sawyer: Allow you to publish your novel without going through traditional publishers.
Someone wrote to Sawyer asking for advice about self-publishing a science-fiction novel, and Sawyer responded:
My advice: DO NOT self-publish, full-stop. Self-publishing does NOT work for science-fiction novels. You would be throwing your money away.
Seriously: if you want advice on the questions you're asking, find someone who has successfully gone the self-publishing route with an SF novel, and ask him or her. The point is: no such person exists, and so you won't be able to find him or her.
Don't do this.
So self-publishing is such a bad idea, you basically won't be able to find a successful science-fiction author who'll admit they've even done it.
Blogger and writer Anne Gilbert, who's working on a "Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neanderthals" (which sounds awesome, sign us up!) responds to Sawyer:
[A] lot has changed in recent years, and many of the publishing houses(including the ones that publish science fiction) are subsidiaries of giant corporations, and "traditional" publishing is not in a happy state right now. It's always been hard for an unknown writer to get him or herself published, and perhaps even harder for a writer of science fiction who can't break into one of the magazines(and there aren't very many of those any more, either). Is Mr. Sawyer completely unaware of this? It almost seems as if he is. And, unfortunately for Mr. Sawyer, I think it is only a matter of time before a lot of material ends up e-published anyway. Again, this may not be true of science fiction, but I wonder. I don't know how much time will pass before this is the case, but I am pretty sure this will happen; the publishing business at the moment is in a fluctuating state.