Yes, it’s all doom and gloom today. There’s no hope, give up now, new authors are having a harder time of it than you could ever imagine.

Doing some research into the pros and cons of writing under a pseudonym, I came across this article on Chick Lit Reviews and News (read it later – I’m going to tell you what it’s about): Successful and experienced author Melissa Senate explains why she is adopting a pen-name – her last few books hadn’t done as well as hoped, so her publishers Simon & Schuster wanted to know ‘would I consider writing this new book under a pseudonym and starting over as a sparkly debut author?

How lovely. While I’m very happy for Melissa – publishers should indeed stand by their authors and develop them rather than drop them like hot potatoes at the first sign of trouble – I found this information alarming. All those ‘debut’ authors you and I read about, those stories that give us hope that one day we too could be both debut and sparkly?

Oh, no. They’re not really newly discovered authors at all, are they? Some of them – and who knows how many – are actually existing authors being re-launched.

Well, why not. But even as the taste of sour grapes is fading, I find myself thinking: Could we just have a bit of honesty in the world of publishing, please? Just so people know where they stand. And so here are my new rules for publishing (mainstream and self) that I would like everyone to abide by from now on, please:

  • Rule 1: Publishers – by all means re-launch an author with a new style/genre/sexy cover. But please don’t try to convince us she/he is a debut author. It’s called lying.
  • Rule 2: Celebrity authors – write your own books. If you can’t write a book, don’t call yourself a writer. If you have someone else ghostwrite your book for you, fine. Put their name on the cover alongside yours. And don’t call yourself a writer.
  • Rule 3: Self-publishers – just self-publish and be proud! Don’t invent an imprint, complete with fake address, phone number, backlist etc, just to try and give yourself credibility. You have credibility already – there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Providing, of course, you followed rule 4…
  • Rule 4: Self-publishers – have your books edited and proofread properly. Publishers will never take self-published books seriously until you do, and every time a book is published with errors, typos, poor formatting – and this includes ebooks (especially ebooks!) – a little, tiny publishing fairy dies.