self-publishing


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My bookshelf – a glorious mish-mash

The newspaper I’ve read since I was able to choose for myself  is The Guardian. We share a roughly similar world view, their standard of journalism is high and they tackle controversial issues. Best of all, I love their books section, book passion and literary mindset. I could spend all day browsing their features and reviews.

They were one of the first broadsheets to get behind self-publishing as a serious literary phenomenon and I couldn’t have been prouder to appear in their pages as a Reader Recommended indie book last year.

Now they’ve launched a prize for Best Self-Published Book, which runs monthly. Hooray!

Or… not?

(Note: As a non-UK resident, I am ineligible to enter. This is not a ‘How Dare They Overlook My Genius’ hissy fit, but a general concern.)

It’s early days, but the first two winning books have been selected and duly reviewed. Two very different winners; a comic romp and the story of a suffragette.

Much to admire in Tom Moran’s Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers, but the reviewer says this:

But it is surprisingly easy to forget that Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers is self-published – that it hasn’t been through the editing, streamlining, stringent process of a publishing house. Spelling, grammar, the rest of it, are all spot-on, and Moran’s story hangs together neatly, pleasingly, and open-endedly ready for a follow-up.

 … a slice of (sometimes) comic fantasy which deserves comparison to the likes of Robert Rankin – another author who isn’t afraid to pile on the quips, and who nonetheless enjoys a home at a mainstream publisher. There’s talent, here, if you can trample through the jokes to find it.

The reviewer of The Right of the Subjects, by Jude Starling, makes her judgement in the headline. A closely researched and passionately told story of suffragism, this novel could have been greatly improved by a conventional publisher.

… They [editors] may remind you that people don’t describe themselves as going somewhere with “our eyes shining”. They’ll mention that The Right of the Subjects might not be the most alluring title. They won’t let you use the word “tut” three times on one page, or the same formula each time you describe someone’s physical appearance, or have a character called Annie appearing alongside a character called Amie. They’ll tell you when your book is, say, 25% (30,000 words or so, in this case) too long.

Rather makes me glad I’m not eligible if this is my reward. A pat on the head for a ‘nice try’?

I have several issues with this.

If you are awarding a prize for the Best Self-Published Novel, why not choose one you can rave about? I’m a regular reviewer for Bookmuse, never differentiating between indie, trad or small press (unless I feel it deserves a mention, such as with A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing). I’ve read literary fiction, horror, in translation, YA, thriller and general fiction from a range of sources, and won’t review if I can’t recommend. Not one self-published novel on the site merited such half-hearted enthusiasm as these prize winners. If I were Mr Moran or Ms Starling, I’d find this chalice not quite poisoned, but certainly corked.

Example indie books I’ve loved: I Stopped Time by Jane Davis,  The Flesh Market by Richard Wright, String Bridge by Jessica Bell

Traditional/conventional/mainstream/trade publishing is not always better. Top indie authors use professional editors, copy editors and proofreaders. They work with expert designers and typesetters. They work hard on their marketing just the same as any midlist author with a trad press must, and are often more creative and flexible in reaching readers.

Example of trade press publication editing: (author unnamed as I see this as publisher failure).

 p.21 – A. was explaining something to S., elaborately gesticulating. He liked to use them a lot while talking, just like an Italian.
p. 42 – Wrong character name
p. 68 – Wrong character name
p. 77 – For a few seconds, she lost balance, the creaking tyres leaving a long black mark behind.
p. 81 – C smiled afflicted.
p. 89 – Truly awful metaphor
p. 90 – …there was something grander then the trivial petty misery
p. 90 – A fomer boyfriend
p. 109 – The spheric sound of Goldfrap
p. 129 – “Take me under you microscope”
p. 132 – …as she watched him filetting that turbot
p. 138 – Mother and daugther.
p. 157 – C. and her friends are a rangle of mid-thirties character without…

 

The assessment of what ‘the best’ is always going to be subjective. Is that a polished package with its own branding? Or something that makes news because it sells? Or a brilliantly imaginative experiment in a tacky cover with a nasty font? Or a multimedia set of discoverables for readers to assemble and interpret? Or ‘almost as good as something the Big Five might put out’?

I find it depressing that the first two reviews of Best Self-Published Books in The Guardian/Legend Prize contain such reactionary observations and still hold up the trade model as ideal.

Self-publishing’s grown up.

Time reviewers caught up.

 

 

I started writing because I wanted to tell stories.

My aim was to communicate – raise a smile, elicit a nod, provoke a frown or incite a reaction. Letters, journal entries, articles, stories and now books.  My measure of success was simply to be read.

I knew I’d never make myHardboiled Noir 50s fortune that way, but none of the things that make me happy are likely to clog the postbox with large cheques. Theatre, teaching, writing, eating fire…

The only thing that really mattered was to please my ideal reader. I wrote for someone judgemental, opinionated, ponderous, fickle, emotional, easily bored and difficult to entertain.

Me.

But to my own horror,  I wasn’t good enough. Reader Me found Writer Me gauche, awkward, and embarrassingly derivative.

I needed help. I found writers’ critique sites, tested a few and finally found a home with similarly judgemental, opinionated, ponderous, fickle, emotional, easily bored and difficult-to-entertain folk. The difference? They showed me how to meet my own standards.

Ten years later, I’ve published four books and played midwife to another dozen. My keystone is always quality. So I ask questions. Is this book as good as it can possibly be? Does it look, feel and smell like an object of desire? Will it be read and enjoyed as a Good Book? Is it what I really wanted to write? Is it honest?

Last month, I spent a weekend with an author whose rewards from writing could allow her to retire. Yet she writes. Every day. Why? While there are stories to tell, a good writer can always get better.

On ALLi’s Self-Publishing Advice blog today, my Triskele colleague, Catriona Troth, tackles the troublesome question of why indie-published books only ever make headlines because of sales. And asks a question. What matters most to the Indie Writer – quality or quantity?

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, check it out.

 

 

 

 

the leapStandards in self-publishing.

This whole argument feels like a perennial pinball machine, where opinions converge, collide, bend at impossible angles and ricochet off in another direction.

Debbie Young confronted the Elephant in the Room on the Self-Publishing Advice blog. Porter Anderson raised the topic via his Twitter debate #muse14. This phenomenon is the slightly awkward relative at a wedding, whose social skills are dubious, but you can’t get away from the fact you are related.

Let’s face it, lots of self-published books are crap. Whether that’s the cover, the writing or simply the concept, which might have been better off unpublished and retained as a private, personal seven-volume diatribe on vengeance / erotica / combustion engines.

It’s my hugest concern.

‘How could this be better?’ is the question I ask most. (This includes Where’s the corkscrew? Who the hell gave that git a driving licence? Do you need a pee and poo? – to husband, pugs and random strangers, not necessarily in that order.)

Self/indie publishing has many different perspectives. The radical and ground-breaking such as eightcutsgallerypress. The various methods of author collectives – genre, marketing, support, shared readership – all show that there is no one route to success.

When starting the Triskele Books collective, we set ourselves a challenge. Three elements were non-negotiable:

  • Our books will look professional
  • Every book must reflect our USP – Time and Place
  • Top quality writing

The first two points are pretty easy to judge, but the last, as we grow and learn, is far harder to define. What IS good writing? And who says so? We’ve worked together for years; as amateur critique partners, indie team-mates and now professional colleagues, thus we trust each other’s insight.

I could break down each of my books and tell you where the Triskelites made it better. I hope they’d say the same. Because we don’t settle for OK. It’s never ‘good enough’. It has to be the very best it can be, and that can take three or seven rewrites, a new cover design, or a total change of blurb.

New Triskele associates get that. These are writers prepared to listen, do the work and make a good book something exceptional. A collective depends on every single book being a flagship. You liked this? Well, there’s more where that came from. We’re currently reading the manuscripts from new potential associates, and offering structural/copy edit/line edit support, alongside marketing advice and collaborative opportunities.

This is what we do.

I’ve read some great books lately. Lowland, String Bridge, Night Train to Lisbon, A Funeral for an Owl, The Glass RoomThe Fleshmarket, Vlad the Inhaler, Spilt Milk: approximately 50/50 indie & trad published.

I’ve read some utter bilge, too. Seven (trad) books sit on the StinkPile, to be exchanged at the local coffee shop for something worth reading. At least six Kindle indies got deleted less than 10% in. Life’s too short for derivative, shallow and crappy – unless that’s what you’re looking for. (If so, you’re in luck – there’s a shedload.)

Standards.

I have them in reading. I want them in my writing. And as much as I am a bigmouthed, opinionated gobshite, I know other people’s input will take my work beyond my own reach. I hope mine can contribute in the same way.

Creative control of my own work is a truly glorious feeling. Yes, it has its scary moments, but I trust my own judgement and that of the team I have assembled to bring my books to life. The editors, the proofreaders, the designer, the artist and the readers. I also trust the people who sell the book and place great value on their opinions.

I’ve published three paperbacks.

BCD kindleBook One, Behind Closed Doors, is my bestseller. Possibly because it’s a Zurich-set crime novel, and has the powerful support of local bookshops, which in turn attract Swiss bookclubs, who recommend it to their friends and so on. Word of mouth.

Tread Softly pb coverBook Three, Tread Softly, sells almost as well. This one, which deals with crime and corruption in Rioja country, found a curious market via the wine trade. Good job I took my research so seriously. I know from booksellers that the cover is a major attraction. People stroke it.

Raw Material_Cover_Paperback_MEDIUMNow what has happened to Book Two – Raw Material?

The story works – the feedback tells me it’s a favourite – and the ebook is selling on a par with the other two. So why is the paperback selling 50% fewer copies than the others?

I asked questions. Readers and booksellers alike told me that the cover simply didn’t carry the same appeal. Now, I love that cover. I commissioned it from the same brilliant artist who painted books one and three. But whether I love it or not is immaterial. If it doesn’t appeal to readers, I need to make a change.

Thankfully, I can. No one else but me can decide what my books look like. I talked to cover artist James, and we discussed why the original image wasn’t sufficiently alluring. The dawn beach scene illustrates a moment from the book, although the majority of the story is set in London. My other two covers create an atmosphere – they don’t try to tell the story. The cover image should trigger the reader’s imagination, not replace it.

Because James is one of the coolest people I know, he took this in the same spirit as I had and threw his energy into finding an image that would work. We referenced the work of Edward Hopper and drew on the observatory nature of his work. The themes of Raw Material are all about watching, covetousness and interpretation. James has an incredible skill with light and shade, which also played into the final image.

We bounced ideas and sketches between Switzerland and California before finally agreeing on composition, colour and atmosphere. When he’d finished, I squeaked with glee and genius graphic designer JD Smith worked her magic in adding the final elements.

So here it is. The new-look paperback cover of Raw Material.

Raw Material_Cover_Paperback NEW PRINT-page-001

With heartfelt thanks to James Lane, whose video of the painting can be found here – 90 seconds of creative process to the noir feel of Gavin Bryars.

 

At this time of year, statistics abound. Many of those relating to the publishing industry have been queried and debated, but one thing is certain – the number of self-published (or indie) books is growing. Whether you see that phenomenon as the citadel stormed by the great unwashed, or an opportunity for more readers to find good books, the problem remains – how to find the best ones?

chocs

Bloggers offer opinions, indie assessors offer stamps of approval, newspapers ask readers’ opinions such as Guardian Readers Recommend, but mostly a book succeeds in finding readers via word-of-mouth.

I’ve read a lot of indie authors this year. They weren’t all good. Several ended up being hurled at the wall (not advisable if reading on Kindle). Many were excellent and deserve a wider readership. So here you go – I’m ending 2013 with 13 of the best indie books I’ve read this year in alphabetical order of author names. Sharing the goodies.

Let me know if you have any recommendations of your own.

 

Seeking Sophia by Ariadne Apostolou

Surprising and unpredictable, this story of a woman’s journey to find her roots.

The author takes us on a geographical journey to New York, Geneva, and Greece, but the emotional parallel is far less predictable. This book, despite its polish and sophistication, feels raw – in a good way. Emotions are on the table with the olives, tomatoes and a jug of rough wine.

Feral Youth, by Polly Courtney

Few books I’ve read can carry such weighty themes with such a unique voice and distinctive accent. Courtney attacks the enormous social issues of contemporary Britain by giving the voiceless a voice. A real voice. This is a different slant on Britain’s 2011 ‘BlackBerry Riots’, looking at the causes, lacerating the media and using the most beautiful tool of all. Language. This book made me cry, grit my teeth in frustration and realise that up till now, I only had one side of the story.

secrets italian gardener

Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts

Difficult to define and delightfully unexpected, this novella has many levels. A contemporary adventure and literary experience, which makes the reader both introspective and on the edge of your seat. The eponymous gardener is rather more than he seems, sharing observations and philosophies on the personal and political. Robert Harris meets Paulo Coelho in a thoughtful, intelligent story.

I Stopped Time by Jane DavisJD-IStoppedTime

A wonderful story of a son re-evaluating everything he thought he knew about his mother. Two lives: Lottie Pye, growing up in Edwardian Brighton, and her son, James, who faces a lonely old age. Until he takes delivery of his mother’s legacy – her photographs – and with the help of young Jenny, begins to make a new picture from the jigsaw of images. A book you resent having to put down.

The Chase by Lorna Fergusson

The history of a house and the uncertain future of marriage are portrayed in this skilfully woven story. Annette (Netty) and Gerald are making a new start in the Dordogne, trying to look ahead and forget the past. Le Sanglier, their new home, also has a colourful past. From primitive civilisation, through mediaeval hunts to occupations from foreign powers, its history is both bloody and dramatic. Ideal atmospheric holiday read.

Scratch by Danny Gillanscratch

Outshines David Nicholls, Tony Parsons and John O’Farrell because Scratch is honest-funny, not synthetic-funny. This is funny, sharply observed comedy with a wry contemporary and Glaswegian slant on age-old problems. Yes, it’s laugh-aloud, but the bits that made me cry and nod came from the most unexpected quarter, and meant all the more for it. Gillan’s writing – quite literally – makes us grow up.
 

House of Silence by Linda Gillard

It’s a tricky book to describe. It has mystery, romance, skeletons in the closet, a decrepit family manor house and a fair few emotional truths. I read it in one weekend, completely absorbed by the world the author creates. House of Silence reminded me of several other well-loved books, such as Cold Comfort Farm, The Pursuit of Love, Janice Gentle Gets Sexy and The Little Stranger.

The Englishman by Helena Halme

Fictionalised memoirs give an insight into displacement, long-distance love, dysfunctional families, cultural differences between neighbouring countries, and the emotional journey of readjustment. The light tones of romance and adventure are deceptive. Halme tackles awkward issues such as family problems, practical bureaucracy and the reality of prejudice.

The Company of Fellows by Dan Holloway

A psychological murder mystery set among the spires of Oxford, it bristles with intelligence, refined tastes and real skill. It’s also very disturbing, in a Hannibal Lecter way. Characters, plot and setting are carefully detailed in such a way to make the reader constantly change perspective. A book I still think about and will undoubtedly re-read.

7th dayThe 7th Day by Nika Lubitsch

The only translated book on the list. A German-set crime novel with an unusual and absorbing structure. Sybille is on trial for her husband’s murder. While on trial, flashbacks tell the story of their life together and she pieces together what really happened. The ending is atmospheric and exciting, not to mention brilliantly executed. Unsurprisingly, a Kindle bestseller.

My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris

An unusual blend of the esoteric and the practical, the book follows a pianist diagnosed with RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury). Her curious condition and an accidental encounter peel back various layers of memory, truth and trust, revealing rather more than she expects. Both reader and narrator are left with more questions than answers, but plenty to think about.

Charlotte Aimes and The Great Alpine Adventure by Libby O

Exactly the kind of book I’d have loved as a kid, and nothing has changed. Fast-paced adventures in the Alps, with a smart-mouthed heroine, a terrific sidekick, a romantic interest, wicked evildoers and a plethora of background information discoverable via various media. Although labelled YA, this is a funny, sassy, cracking yarn for all ages.

The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quineimagination thief

Another difficult to classify book, but that’s precisely why it works so well. Part literary fiction, part fantasy, it is a surreal experience which makes the most of its equally offbeat location. With a cast of unforgettable characters and a central premise both intriguing and epic, this is what indie fiction does so very well – breaks boundaries and takes risks. In this case, it pays off.

Once upon a time, there were five writers.

They believed there was a third way of publishing, somewhere over the rainbow.

So they packed their books and set off to explore.

This is what happened on the journey.

The Triskele Trail is a true story.

About a writers’ collective who made some mistakes and some smart decisions; who discovered opportunities, found friends and dodged predators in the independent publishing jungle.

Fourteen books later, here are the lessons we learned.

This is not a How-To book.

This is How-We-Did-It.

This is The Triskele Trail.

 

Libby O, author of Charlotte Aimes

It’s the combined wisdom of a range of independently published writers that makes the difference: practical know-how, up-to-date details about the financials and processes of publishing platforms and services, as well as other been-there-done-that tips – all of which I found in The Triskele Trail

Andrew Crofts, author, ghostwriter and publisher of Secrets of the Italian Gardner

Despite having published more than eighty books with traditional publishing houses I found the path through the jungle of independent and self-publishing peppered with booby traps for the unwary. I wish I’d had this book when I set out, it would have saved me a great deal of time, money and heartache.

This is the ultimate jungle guidebook written by people who have actually cut their own path through the undergrowth. They have weathered all the set-backs, fallen into all the traps and climbed back out again, emerging into the light, bruised but triumphant, with a thriving small business and a number of handsome books. The lessons they have to teach are priceless for anyone hoping to follow them.

Modern publishing is an industry filled with dreamers, fantasists and the plain deluded. This book is a clear, calm, factual guide from people who truly know what they are talking about.”

For one week only, The Triskele Trail is on promotion: grab it while it’s hot!

Amazon

Smashwords

 

Interview with Edward Marnier, author of Brief Encounters

 

Edward Marnier

Ed picBorn March 1949, Fordingbridge England.  Brought up New Forest and West of Ireland. Educated state and private schools. First job cinema projectionist. Worked at BFI, before various jobs in the film industry and becoming a film editor, winning a BAFTA award 1984. Worked in Europe and USA, where wrote two short film scripts. Now an oriental carpet dealer and sometime short story writer.

 

What made you choose a self-publishing service, rather than going it alone or pitching to a mainstream publisher?

Realism … I realised I was not technically confident to self publish and equally my material was not ‘up to’ showing to a mainstream publisher.

How did you choose your provider and what tipped the balance?

I started looking through self-publishing sites … and what they offered. I didn’t look for the cheapest – although it is interesting the different terms and descriptions of what is part of the service for such and such a fee … and what is extra. I was keen to find a site which seemed to have an understanding of the technical difficulties, formats, formatting etc.

In the end, the Matador/Troubador’s site was so much clearer and more straightforward. They provided information that allowed you the author – to make a decision as to which parts of their service you wanted, or needed. Other sites seemed to relish the fact that one might not be able to understand technically how to self publish; Matador seem to go out of their way to let you understand the options available and the costs involved.

What services did they provide?

Everything for an eBook to be available in various formats and various countries. Very switched on group of people. Good artwork for the cover. Excellent telephone and email contact. One never felt awkward about phoning and asking your representative questions. Just a really good experience.

And which were the most valuable elements for you?

Technical, grammar and spelling. Plus nice messages.

Were there any areas you felt could have been improved?

If you are as illiterate as me, it is quite hard for all the necessary suggestions and corrections to be highlighted against your page of script – but I am not sure there is any way around that – unless I learn some English.

 What advice would you offer other authors in the position of being ready to publish?

Go with these guys …  Matador/Troubador.

 
Tell us how Brief Encounters came to life.Brief Encounters cover

During the small bit of education I received – one of the few things I was good at was composition (as it was called). Compressing a chapter of some book into a single page, without losing the meaning or excitement of the story. And as I used to edit films, there seems to be something in me that loves the ‘cut to the chase’.

Where’s the best place to read your stories?

In bed with a friend … then at least you can have some fun reading awful lines aloud to each other – and sex and laughter can be pretty good?

 

Thanks to Edward for sharing his experiences.

Now a note of warning from me, JJ Marsh: Piranhas and Sharks

Authors seeking a self-publishing service – beware. Recently, a whole range of companies sprouted, helping authors get to market. Many charge a premium price and deliver poor results. How to be sure a provider is useful/reasonable/?

 

As regulars to the blog know, I independently published my crime series via Triskele Books, an author collective. I wanted creative control and the best possible quality. I also wanted ebooks AND print.

I published my paperbacks with Lightning Source, the Print-On-Demand experts. As did all the Triskele authors and each of us is delighted with the results. Lightning Source Inc (LSI) is part of the Ingram Content Group, which launched its latest initiatve –  IngramSpark – at Book Expo America.

Triskele Books are always curious about the latest publishing industry developments and watched the announcement with great interest. 

So I asked Lightning Source to talk about the way they work with indie publishers like ourselves and what the future holds.  

David Taylor, President of Lightning Source UK, was more than happy to talk to us and outline the company’s plans. In a two-part interview, David explains the IngramSpark initiative and answers our questions on LSI and indie authors.
 

Lightning Source – From the Horse’s Mouth (Part I)

Why did Ingram develop IngramSpark?

Many of our publishers have asked us to create a service where they can easily distribute their content in all formats to our vast network of retail partners. IngramSpark is a response to those requests. Additionally, we wanted to streamline our sales, account setup, content management and customer support activities by providing publishers with a better experience through a self service, completely online portal where they manage all their activity in one place.

Does this mean Ingram is getting into the self-publishing business?

We are in the business of servicing our upstream (publishers) and downstream (retailers, library) partners. As the definition of “publisher” has evolved in the industry to “content provider”, Ingram will provide services to assist getting that content to market, as we have done from the beginning. Ingram Content Group work with all publisher segments in the industry.

What services will the IngramSpark program offer?

IngramSpark will launch with global POD service via LSI-US; LSI-UK and LSI-AU. Additionally eBook service via the CS-fulfillment channel will provide distribution to over 100 online retailers. In August, the CS+ network comes online making eBook content available for Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Nook and 13 other major e-retailers.

Plans are underway for IngramSpark to also offer file conversion services, ISBN purchase via an arrangement with Bowker, and a marketing program that includes advertising via Ingram’s Advance catalogues, press release and book review services.

Publishers using IngramSpark will pay for services and fees by credit card they have on file in their account.

What is the difference between IngramSpark and LSI print services?

LSI is a pioneer and innovator in POD technology so all that LSI has to offer in choice of format, trim size and color options will be available to the IngramSpark publisher. The cost of printing and shipping content is the same in both platforms. LSI allows more flexibility in terms of a publisher being able to set a range of channel discounts where Spark applies a standard trade discount of 55%. LSI accounts have an assigned CSR where Spark is designed as a self service platform with limited support.

As LSI print service users, we’re wondering what that means for us.

Just to be clear – we are not trying to move customers over to Spark, just provide greater choice in the market.

IngramSpark launches Monday 1 July

Part 2 of David’s interview is out now.

So much happening out there, one can hardly keep up. Fear not, here’s your correspondent reporting from the front.

Firstly, the gradually evaporating myth of a trad v. indie publishing war. Here’s an extract from my guest piece for Words with JAM:

Far too many online spats and vitriolic entrenchment regarding the trad v. indie debate. Not pretty and neither side comes out unscathed.

Naturally, the media loves mud-slinging and muck-raking, and will stir that cauldron with a large wooden spoon. Understandable. Good news about positive initiatives and mutual support are nowhere near as attractive as a damn good row and a couple of insults.

What puzzles me is the disconnect between these ‘stories’ and reality. For years, I’ve worked as a journalist … I’ve interviewed publishers, agents, authors of every persuasion, publicists, translators, fantasists, artists, architects, politicians and anarchists.

Not one of these individuals was looking for a fight. Each was looking for the best way to bring two things together: the reader and the story. Each has her/his own agenda and might measure success differently, but the ultimate aim is the same. Story + Reader = Result.

The Guardian started its Self-Publishing Showcase by asking readers to recommend self-published books they thought deserved attention. And they kicked off with an interview with Polly Courtney, who launched her book, Feral Youth, last night. Polly is a great champion of the independent route and took the time to talk to me about her choices.

Writers and Artists’ Yearbook has also begun a series interviewing self-published authors and offering advice from the experienced and savvy Roz Morris.

And agent Andrew Lownie is doing incredibly well with his Thistle Publishing imprint, proving that flexibility and marketing nous can mean success for author, agent and reader.

Location, Locution

Location, Locution

Closer to home, Triskele Books has been raking in the reviews, accolades , interviews and awards. The Trisky blog is the place to go for illuminating interviews, a writers’ toolbox and our bookclub, discussing stories we love. Today and next week, we have an insider scoop from our favourite print-on-demand company. David Taylor, CEO of Lightning Source answers our questions and introduces new initiative, IngramSpark.

For far-flung sorts with a penchant for place, I’ve begun a new column at Displaced Nation, talking to writers about use of location. By way of introduction, I took my own medicine. If you have any books/authors you think use setting to best effect, please do tip me off.

Triskele BooksI call on all readers to strike down the insidious lie that an independently published book is the creation of an individual soul labouring in isolation. And probably delusion.

That belief threatens the quality, range and adventurism in independent publishing. It’s also bullshit.

Independent authors are just as aware of the value of booksellers, editors, marketers, designers and proofreaders. In fact, probably more so, as we interact directly with these people and understand how much value they really add.

Independent authors are also aware of the necessity of teamwork. We treasure the unflagging support, advice and guidance of those who went before and who have the generosity of spirit to share their experiences and warn others of the pitfalls.

I belong to writers’ collective Triskele Books; a team of indie authors who act as five tireless and committed editors for my work, who encourage me to make my books the best they can be, who insist on expert design and proofreading, who believe in creative freedom coupled to professional presentation.

I belong to The Alliance of Independent Authors, a non-profit organisation which offers all kinds of opportunities for writers, one of which is the industry-savvy, observant, brave, and articulate membership.

I write for Words with JAM, a free literary magazine aimed at sharing news, ideas, new writing, interviews and a sense of community with our readership. We work with agents, traditionally published authors, big and small publishers, journalists and experimenters, without feeling the need to draw a line between Them and Us.

I work with Nuance Words, a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing local writers together. We publish a regular ezine, offer workshops and events for writers and collaborate with our local bookshop to get more people reading.

So I’m not in the ‘profit-maximisation’ business. I’m in the writing, storytelling, creatively collaborating, team-working, indie publishing and book-loving business.

I’m not going to get out of that business. I’m right at the centre of an exciting sea-change in that world. And while I embrace the vistas opening up before us, I am not going to judge anyone for peddling the comfort blanket of traditionalism.

We’re building this together and we’re going to keep building it together.

 

(This is a response to John Green’s acceptance speech at the American Booksellers’ Association Awards.)

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