Sunday, June 14, 2009

Self publishing

I'm weighing in here at last to the selfpublishing/vanity publishing debate with a question: if you don't pay to be published, are you still self-published? Self-publisher last year offered the first 5000 emails they received from writers the chance to be published 'for free'. The first lucky 5000 wouldn't get to choose a cover or be edited or marketed, and if they wanted their books in bookshops they'd have to pay, but they would get printed on demand without having to pay for it, and they'd get a 60% royalty fee.
There's some confusion about whether this makes you a self-published writer or not. To my mind, you're still self-published in this instance, whether you pay for it or not, because there's no quality control. A bit like reviews on literary blogs, as opposed to reviews in newspapers, there are no editors to say whether something's good enough or not to be published.
Other self-publishing sites like have also made similar offers. Are they so different though from Macmillan's new writers offer of a few years ago, when they offered to publish debut writers without paying them or guaranteeing them any marketing?


  1. Yes, I'd agree all that still counts as self-publishing.

    Here's my fightin' question, though: how come lit critics (unlike e.g. music and film critics) have never shown any interest whatsoever in self-published and promoted work, even in the last five years, when fiction as polished as this has appeared online:

    Not one prominent critic I can think of has dared champion such work. Yet another instance of the absurd (and ultimately suicidal) conservatism of this artform?

    Keep on bloggin', Lesley!

  2. Well, I can see why this doesn't have a publisher yet, in spite of some deft prose, it's so narcissistic it made me want to scream after about three paragraphs. But on the reviewing side - there's so much actual published work and so little space to cover it in, that anything unpublished/on the net etc etc can't get a look in. If editors could give more money to books pages, I think it would be great to devote at least a page to reviewing unpublished writing on the net - well, more than great, essential. But unfortunately the arts pages on newspapers are always seen as expendable, and it's the first place editors go to make cuts. I agree lots of interesting stuff is being missed this way.