Debbie Young, co-author with Dan Holloway of ALLi's guidebook Opening Up to Indie Authors, sounds a rallying cry to continue our #publishingopenup campaign – with a striking example of why it's still necessary.
The Story So Far
In 2014, ALLi published a guidebook with three objectives:
- to equip self-published authors with the information and attitude they need to collaborate successfully with other players in the book trade and literary environments
- to tackle the challenges of incorporating self-published books into literary organizations and events
- to raise awareness of the high quality and professional standards offered by the best self-publishing authors and encourage their inclusion
Fair treatment for all authors must surely be in the best interests of the most important party of all in this scenario: the reader, who doesn't care how a book is published, as long as it's a good read.
Three years on, there have been enough encouraging developments to necessitate updating the book completely. The new revised edition will be launched as part of our BEA #IndieAuthorFringe event on Saturday 3rd June.
More Work to be Done
Yet there is still much work to be done, as indicated by this example that turned up in my inbox last week. The Mslexia Women's Novel Competition is now calling for submissions from new writers as follows:
The competition is open to women of any nationality from any country, and welcomes 5,000 word extracts of completed, unpublished novels of at least 50,000 words in length (not including the title). As well as the top prize of £5,000, the winner and four finalists will receive manuscript feedback, and introductions to agents and editors, at a special event held in London.
Hmm, sounds good, I thought – nice and inclusive, with a decent monetary prize. Then I clicked through to the small print and nearly fell off my chair when I read in the Eligibility section the following points:
- Self-published manuscripts are eligible.
Whaaaat?!!! So self-published, on Planet Mslexia, means unpublished.
So what they're saying is: this novel that I have in my hand, written and produced to professional standards, in paperback, available for bookstores to order through their usual suppliers, also available from all the leading etailers, amassing great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, with a cover endorsement by an internationally bestselling novelist, isn't actually a published book?
Well, you could knock me down with a Birnam Wood twig (spot the pretentious literary reference – and beware, another follows shortly…)
To me, Mslexia's line of reasoning echoed Macbeth's false confidence that he could not be harmed by “man of woman born” – only to be killed by Macduff, who was “from his mother's womb untimely ripped” i.e. born by caesarean.
Ahem. Just because a baby has been born with surgical intervention, rather than in the traditional way, doesn't make it less of a baby.
Just because a novel has been self-published doesn't make it any less a novel.
How You Can Help
Clearly we still have work to do here, and there are some easy ways for you to help us move things along:
- Please use our campaign hashtag #publishingopenup when tweeting about relevant matters
- Please share our blog and social media posts on this topic as far and wide as you can
- Please sign our petition to pledge your support for its principles
- If you have read and enjoyed our guidebook, please help us raise its profile by leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads
- If you find great examples of sectors of the publishing industry truly opening up to indies, please let us know so we can share the news
- Also please advise us of any bad practice you spot so that we can help change the minds of those responsible
Don't forget to join us for our free #IndieAuthorFringe conference on Saturday 3rd June when we'll be launching the new edition of Opening Up to Indie Authors, which ALLi members will be able to download for free (one of many benefits of joining ALLi) and non-members will be able to order online.Why the publishing trade still needs to open up to indie authors #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
POSTS ABOUT SOME #PUBLISHINGOPENUP SUCCESS STORIES