Friday, 1 March 2013

There will be an additional

post on this blog today. Alison Morton is looking in shortly. Today is the official publication day of her novel "Inceptio". It is a self published novel. 
Self published? Yes. More and more novels are, I suspect, being self   published. It is becoming easier to self publish, especially in electronic format.  An author can put out pretty well anything they like without going to the printer. You don't need an agent - if you can get one - to hike your work around to publishers. They don't sit on it for months - and then decide they don't, after all, want to publish it. Self publishing can be instant gratification instead.
It was not quite like that for Alison. She worked on it. She had her work evaluated and rewrote. She had it professionally edited and she sought advice about format and appearance. I am happy to give her a little extra publicity for that reason.
Looking at all of that it also seems to me that self-publishing, if done properly, is both hard work and expensive.  I have had occasion to look at some other self-published work and I doubt that everyone is aware of this. They think it is enough to write something, use a self-publishing programme or site and put their work out there - sometimes in the belief that it is going to be an instant bestseller. 
And yes, there is always the possibility that an agent and a publisher is going to miss something that will resonate so strongly with the public that it will be a best seller. It is unlikely but it is possible. 
There is also the possibility that, having self-published, a publishing house will approach the author with a view to acquiring their work. That is also unlikely but it can happen. I can imagine it happening to someone who did a very professional job of self-publishing (including marketing it), who sold an average print run and received some excellent reviews and commentaries from people known to agents and publishers. It is all rather unlikely but it has happened and it can happen again.
But, you need to be able to write in the first place. You need to put in the time. You need to seek professional help, especially with the editing - and you need to be willing to genuinely listen and learn at that point. That will cost money. Editing is not cheap, the best editing is very expensive indeed. Most of us do not have that sort of  money. 
Then you need to put in more time. You need to know the market and the stalls where you can stock your book. You need to be able to get the cover face out and in a prominent position and be prepared to spruik it - loudly.
I can never see myself doing those things. I admire Alison for doing it, just as I admire Nick Green - who did self-publish and then get taken up by a regular publisher. They have worked on what they have done.
But self publishing also bothers me. Fifty plus years ago some self-published work would have been taken up by a regular publisher. No doubt they missed some books and some very good books have never been published. They also published books which barely sold but at least these were - generally speaking - edited, typeset, proofread and marketed according to the standards of the publisher.  
I look at all the work that has gone into those books and know I do not know enough. I cannot afford the professional help I would need. It is going to be difficult enough to take on the role of selling the book - something which now seems to be the responsibility of the new author rather than the publisher. 
If someone bought me a winning lottery ticket would I self-publish?
It is an interesting question. I wonder how many writers would say "yes"?

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