Agreed. My best friend begged me to read "A Game of Thrones" back when we were in college (1997?). It was a popular book even then, and the series has many rabid fans. The HBO show (which is awesome, by the way) has intensified interest, but honestly, it didn't create that interest.MichaelWallace said:The Game of Thrones series took off years ago, long before HBO got involved. Of course, it has been pushed to another level by the recent series, but all my sf/f friends were reading these books a decade ago.
While I feel that trade publishing does still have advantages, this is honestly a pretty atypical (and therefore poor) example. If George R.R. Martin self-published his next book, he'd still sell like crazy. At this point, he is a big name with a devoted fan base. Once the demand for your books is there (and a TV series has been created for those books), I don't think trade publishing vs. self-publishing makes a huge difference either way. That said, I have a feeling it's much easier to negotiate a big series deal with HBO in the first place when you've got the resources of a major publisher behind you.