I suggested a few days ago that it looked like the far-right publishing house Castalia had stopped publishing new science fiction. There was not an immediate reaction from Vox Day, the white nationalist behind the publisher. However on his blog [archive link] today he more-or-less confirms what was apparent:
“In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.
This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.”
So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.
- We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
- We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
- In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.
The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three. As part of the same comment I quoted above he says:
“Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.”
Castalia was offering very little: minimal editing, very variable cover design and a brand name that was appealing only to a very narrow and ideologically defined base. Since 2014, the technological knowledge needed to self-publish on Amazon has become more broadly understood by authors in general. It’s still weird but there is plenty of free advice available and also mini-publishing outfits willing to provide the relevant services for better return than Castalia and without the associated stigma.