Happy Independence Day! Well, OK, I know I’m not American, but I thought today was the ideal opportunity to for us self-published and unpublished writers to rally round and get together behind a brilliant resource.
The Alliance of Independent Authors is a non-profit organisation to help indie authors – or self-publishing authors – get together, get noticed, and get taken seriously!
I feel quite strongly about the whole self-pubbing authors being taken seriously thing (as you might have noticed). Here’s a little story to illustrate why: I was talking to a family member at the weekend about my book and my experiences so far. Now, this is a lady who has written fiction for most of her life, been published in women’s magazines in the UK, and has a novel she’s been working on for years and years. I haven’t read it, but I’m pretty sure it’s very, very good indeed. I offered to help her to self-publish the novel, but this lovely lady said she lacked confidence. She needed the validation of the publishing industry, she said, to prove that her work was good enough.
She meant, of course, to find an agent or publisher the traditional way. Now, I have nothing against agents or publishers – I wish I had one or both! – but I had to explain how the publishing world has changed, and how the model for ‘validation’ has also changed significantly. To best do this I can paraphrase a quote from a book I read recently: Why do authors still persist with the desire to gain validation from an industry which gives its highest esteem, in £££s and attention, to the likes of ‘writers’ like Katie Price?
It’s a good point. The publishing world at the moment seems to operate, in the main, on two levels. Bestselling authors are promoted, supported, and paid well – and the literary merit behind their bestseller status is secondary. New authors are taken on by publishers and agents, but (and of course there are rare, wonderful exceptions to this) it tends to be only when there is potential for a breakthrough title which can be heavily promoted across all platforms, and may well be a single-title success. Publishers can take the risk if they think the book has enough commercial appeal because if the author is new – and desperate enough – they will take a low advance.
The key here is ‘commercial’. So, after all my ramblings, I come back to my main point: Validation by the industry means your book is commercial. Nothing else. Not good, or great, or well-written. Just commercial. And do we still have to chase this? No, I don’t think so. Because now we have a viable alternative – and authors today should count themselves so lucky – in that we can self-publish and reach the people who really matter: READERS. They, I told my relative, are whose opinions matter, and if you get your book in front of them, they will give you the validation you deserve.
So join up with the AIA – it’s cheap, there are loads of resources, and the more members we have the louder we can speak to the world.