Monday, 3 September 2012
Why should we celebrate the self-published? What have they really done? Submitted a flawed, error ridden manuscript for a company to print out and bind together? Perhaps they've put years of work into the novel but haven't been able to secure a publisher or agent, so they've headed down the self-pub route. Should we talk about them in the same sentence as Marcel Proust or Fyodor Dostoyevsky?
Self-publishing really only used to be for those who wanted to write about themselves, bind memories into book form, or create a collection of short stories for a niche market or for their children to enjoy, but now, or so it seems, everyone's at it. It's really bucking the trend as the New York Times recently highlighted. The newspaper recently reported that four self-published authors had taken up seven slots on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. Furthermore, the article suggests that this trend will continue in the years to come. The authors include Colleen Hoover - Slammed and Point of Retreat, R.L. Mathewson with Playing For Keeps, Lyla Sinclair with Training Tessa and Bella Andre with If You Were Mine, Can't Help Falling In Love and I Only Have Eyes For You.
Are they any good?
Take our wannabee author, Arthur Reid for example - his book has been rejected by every agent and publisher this side of Texas, so he wants to proclaim to the world that he is 'an author.' So he self-publishes. He contacts the local newspaper, The Bugle, and he tells them he's a published author. The editor, not knowing the difference between mainstream and self-publishing, runs the story. Arthur enjoys a few Amazon sales and word gets around that 'Fifty Shapes of Stetson Hats' is actually really, really good. The cowboys all rush out and buy it.
Then there's 18-year-old Ann Books who secured a six figure sum via Riches and Tops Literary Agency, and ended up in all the papers. 'Bright young literary thing,' was the headline, except the hype died a slow death and she made a handful of sales. She put her tail in her pocket and became a recluse, penning Book Two. But...but...but...she has an agent and has been published by the big men.
Who's the author here? Arthur or Ann? Or both?
Are readers more intent in seeking out a good story, regardless of where it has been published? Do they gloss over the mistakes - there, they're, their etc - and shout about how wonderful the boy meets girl story is? Now that Arthur has self-published, becoming an overnight sensation, will he change his name, nationality and undergo plastic surgery to remove his moustache and re-invent himself as an author proper?
So many questions.