Self-published literature is nothing new. It’s been around, in one form or another, since the printing presses got rolling. John Milton, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter and Walt Whitman are just a few of the more celebrated self-publishers. What self-publishers may lack in professional experience, they can gain in creative control. In some cases writers have been able to make a fast buck without having to share their profits with publishers. ... In the late Twenties, DH Lawrence self-published Lady Chatterley’s Lover (its sexual content made it unpublishable in England by the usual channels). He paid to have it printed privately in Florence then sent hundreds of sales leaflets to the United States and Britain and made himself £1,000 within the year. More recently, initially self-published novels include James Redfield’s 1993 new-age adventure The Celestine Prophecy, which spent 165 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list; Jill Paton Walsh’s medieval fable Knowledge of Angels made the 1994 Booker Prize shortlist and G P Taylor’s children’s book Shadowmancer topped the bestseller lists for 15 weeks, seeing him dubbed “hotter than Potter”. Who’d have guessed – when the policeman-turned-Anglican vicar sold his Harley Davidson to pay for 2,000 copies to be printed back in 2002 – that today he’d have a publishing deal with Faber and be fending off questions about whether Michael Caine will star in the movie?Helen Brown in The Telegraph investigates the rise of the self-publishing phenomenon, as it becomes easier to produce books outside traditional publishing houses.
She points out that Grosvenor House Publishing, one of the companies offering services to authors who wish to self-publish in the UK saw a 20 per cent increase in business last year, and quotes Jane Rowland, the editor of The Self Publishing Magazine who attributes the growth to :
... the well-documented shrinking of commercial book lists and budgets, coupled with a population that is more determined, and financially able, to pursue their publishing ambitions.So if you want to be published, why not consider the self-publishing route?
But first, some cautionary advice which I hope you will take to heart from a group of writers in Perth, Western Australia : Yes, you do need an editor!