Tuesday, 4 February 2014


As a struggling self publishing author you don't expect another writer to make things more difficult for you - still less one lucky (?) enough to have been picked up by a conventional publisher,  but that's just what this year's Costa Book prize winner has done. At least that's what I think.

  In one of those Q and A pieces in a national newspaper he was asked what he was currently reading. He mentioned a self published novel which he seemed to be enjoying but then said that self published novels were always a risk. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Why should they be any more of a risk than a conventional novel? It's about time this unfair prejudice was dispensed with once and for all. Why should writers not take full advantage of the wonderful technology now available? OK there are some egotists out there who just want to see their name on the cover of a book but, I believe, there are many, many more thankful for even an outside chance of finding an audience for their work and a way of circumventing the unpredictable and erratic ways of mainstream publishing. These are the same publishers who lavish huge advances on the likes of Katie Price and footballers who decide they would like to have "a stab" at writing kiddies

  Many of these publishers seemed to follow whatever the prevailing fashion happens to be - whether its misery memoirs, chick lit or the tendency to publish 600 page novels when the material only warrants half of that.

  You are probably much more likely to come across an "original voice" in the self published world and there is the excitement of a personal discovery when you do. The self published author does not have the burden of producing only what he thinks his master - sorry publisher - believes will sell. If his material only fits novella length he does not have to force it into the shape of a full blown novel.

  I, personally, know of at least one author (of 20 novels standing) who took back all the rights to his books and is now self publishing. He got fed up with the fact that his particular publisher did nothing to promote his considerable body of work. Others have left publishing houses because they were being forced into a creative straight jacket and were being expected  to continually pump out more of the same.

  I have been lucky enough to get 5star reviews for "The Balloon Man In Edinburgh" on Amazon and I am unapologetic about self publishing. The way I see it, if I am spared, over the next few years I hope to bring out several titles, written according to my own personal vision and, maybe, I will be picked up by a conventional publisher but, as long as I can build up even a modest, loyal readership, I don't care if I don't. Freedom as a writer is much more important to me.

  And another thing, print on demand self publishing is much more eco friendly. Supply and demand is much more in sync. No having to pulp hundreds of unsold books.


  1. You are in sync with a writer I much admire, Donna Barr, who's been self publishing for at least 20 years:

    Her work is quirky and brilliant and I hate to think what some publisher would try to make her do to it before letting it out there. (If you are up for something that will just about turn you inside out even while you're still wondering "what the hell is this?" I recommend "An Insupportable Light".) She has a small but loyal following (raises hand).

    Me, I used an on-demand publisher because my couple of books were more in the way of a huge prank than anything, and it was essential that they reach print without some publishing house know-it-all demanding the extraction of the core of the joke(s).

    Sure, there are some semiliterate people out there using on-demand services to publish a heartfelt hoard of poems about darling little children and butterflies or their relationship with Jeeeezus, but it probably makes their families happy, and as you say, publishing houses offer us plenty of dreck written by people who happen to be known for something else.

  2. i understand the quote....it is a risk in that anyone can publish...and self publishing seems at times to be who can shout the loudest sells books...and everyone gets their friends to write them good reviews on amazon that fool others...but it is the risk you take to find that original voice....

  3. Brian, I can assure you that ALL my reviews are 100% genuine and uncoaxed