Self publishing: The future of literature?

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THE IMPACT of the e-book has given rise to a new type of writer – the independent, self-published author. The world of publishing is one of slosh piles and filtering where publishers barely communicate with writers. Instead companies work through literary agents, which are often amateur and conservative enterprises that simply nurture their select roster of clients rather than seeking new talent. Whilst publishers work on their own whims as to what the public will or won’t read, literary agents are often book lovers hoping to go to lit festivals and boozy lunches among writers rather than seeking to showcase new talent. This system makes it increasingly difficult for not only innovative, provoking writers, but any new author to break into the print-book world.

Turning to e-books and indie publishing is not only an option for the unpublished but also for the well-seasoned writer. GF Newman, creator of the original Law & Order TV-miniseries, has written several novels, but for his most recent work Dark Heart he chose to go indie. Newman had had ‘creative differences’ with publishers but also believes that internet publishing is the future.

More freedom

By self-publishing the author is given complete freedom in their work. Griselda Heppel has self-published a re-writing of Dante’s Inferno for young adults – Ante’s Inferno. Heppel had contacted publishers but many were ‘baffled’ by the concept of a children’s book based on Dante and Greek mythology. Another new writer is Jonathan Rowe who has published the first of a historical-fantasy series Tinderspark both on Amazon and e-book publishing company Smashwords. Both Rowe and the founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker, were stifled in their attempts to publish conventionally. Coker “created Smashwords so [he] could take a risk on every author” and “let the readers decide which books are worth reading”, because, as all these writers discovered, publishing companies can be shockingly unaware of their own readership! Smashwords works with companies including Apple iBookstores, Barnes & Noble, Sony and WH Smith to publish e-books, offering a high profit percentage to authors and providing marketing materials – all for free.

Students and self-publishing

With the number of creative writing students at Aberystwyth it is likely some of you will wish to publish work of your own someday. Within the increasingly conservative, self-gratifying publishing world, however, this is a difficult task. E-books currently only make up 30% of the book industry but they are on the rise. As we turn away from printed editions and the opinions of big city publishers it would seem independent publishing is the future. Reconnecting with the writers and ideas across the world, unfiltered by big companies and marketing is essential in furthering the literary world. Publishing with Amazon Kindle or Smashwords is completely free with high royalties and complete freedom in writing and price. Though most of the marketing relies on the author, both sites recommend starting your book price at £0.00 to attract downloads and reviews before upping the price for a bigger readership. The chance of spreading you work and creativity across the globe is there: you need only take it.

The books mentioned are available on Amazon: Tinderspark (The Burning Times) by Jonathan Rowe £1.87, Dark Heart by GF Newman £2.99 and Ante’s Inferno by Griselda Heppel £3.