8 March 2012

The Age Of The Self Publisher

Honestly, it is. My news feeds tell me so. Here's a round up.

We start with the underwhelming news that Rich Burlew author of hilarious RPG based cartoon Order Of The Stick managed to raise a meelion dollarss via Kickstarter to re-publish some graphic novels. Not that this isn't good news and not that OOTS isn't great fun but if he was surprised by the support he got I think he's one of a very small number.

So, what about people who are not internet celebrities (or celebrities of any sort)? Well Kerry Wilkinson used to to count as an almost complete non-entity in most people's lives but he is scaling the dizzy heights with a series of crime novels. He was a journalist so one could argue that he had contacts, I suppose. He's just gone over to the dark side like so many self-published successes and signed a massive six book deal with sith lord Darth Liverous Macmillan Books.

Apparently having a square-jawed name helps if you're selling pulp fiction as John Locke has sold over a million self-published books and is very happy with life as a self-publisher. This is what we like to see. Also self-publisher Rachel Abbott has said a book deal with a major publishing house didn't "feel right".

To develop the theme of the last link (tldr: self-publishing is a phenomenon all of a sudden but our eyes bleed for a decent editor) some people are dismayed by the amount of textual slurry now available to peruse. While it's true that about 9% more self-published material is crap than Sturgeon's Law would dictate this is pretty much true of the internet. It's also true that one man's meat is another man's poison. I have, in the past, been known to fete the work of unedited pulp hacks milling out books via Lulu and prefer something with plenty of heart, originality, spark and gusto to most of the bland rubbish available in high street bookshops.

So, you'd think I was a happy bunny right now.


The one fly in the ointment is that we're swelling the coffers of notorious market place bullies Amazon in our rush to get an eye on the rough stuff. This triumphalist blog post from the Guardian simultaneously rallies the troops and sends them on a foolhardy charge Kindlewards in a manner that most deserves the inaugural "Patrick Stewart Facepalm Award" for well-meaning encouragement towards complete and utter disaster.

Customers may well love Amazon, I do, and as long as they're encouraging greedy multi-national distributors to cut their margins as thin as possible that's great. But when they start practicing Long-Tail-Fu on the little guy that's the time to say: "Hey, Amazon, I ain't gonna be your bitch" (with many thanks to Bill Bailey).

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.