Monday 20 August 2018

I'm a self-published writer. So what?

New book cover (book/ebook publ.September)

Scrolling through Facebook the other day, as you do when you are supposed to be working, I came across a blog post written by an 'anonymous' independent bookshop owner, in which they listed all the reasons why neither they, nor any of their profession would contemplate stocking self-published/indie books.

Their argument was that far too many self-published writers produce amateur and inferior books, and then have the cool arrogance to think, my God, that they is going to place their shabbily presented and badly-written volumes on hallowed bookshop shelves! Quel horreur! (They made an exception for non-fiction books, which apparently were produced to a higher standard).

The attitude whereby self-published/indie books are viewed by suppliers and bookshops as inferior, needs challenging. Contrary to anonymous' assertions of amateurism, many of us employ professional editors and proofreaders to check our manuscripts. We also shell out for bespoke covers (see above), working for weeks with designers, to produce the very best and most eye-catching ones that we can. You may well find the odd typo in our work, but hey, I have found them in many a mainstream-published book too, (certainly in my own books, when I was published by a 'big name'). I've also seen some pretty naff covers too, assembled from Adobe Stock rather than designed.

Now, I could, as a 'publisher' try to kick down the door, and get The Victorian Detectives into my local Waterstones, or one of the independent bookshops in the area, but frankly, m'dear, I can no longer be bothered. Waterstones' latest policy means that all books like mine have to be submitted to their HQ for approval, and I refuse to be treated like some kid who is handing in homework to be marked.

Even if I got an A on said homework, there is still the 'discount' hurdle to overcome. Bookshops expect publishers to offer them a 45% discount. It covers premises, overheads, staff etc etc. Fair enough. Large publishers can do this, taking a hit on some writers, while making big profits on novels by celeb writers, or hyped unknowns whose readability often seems in reverse ratio to their publicity. Subtract the discount from what a writer is paid in royalties, and factor in the sale or return policy most shops operate, and the faff of the paperwork, you end up with so little for your time and effort that it seriously isn't worth it.

Therefore, until anonymous independent book shop owner changes their mindset, and others their methodology, I am going to stay exactly where I am, mistress of my own little book and ebook empire, and enjoy the company of hundreds of other self-published writers, whose books are as professional, as well-written, and just as worth reading as any that you will find piled high in your local bookshop. What's not to like?

So what is your opinion? Are bookshop stocked writers 'better'? Have you struggled to get your books into local shops? Please share your views and experiences ....


  1. Which is why I don't go to Waterstones (the only bookshop in my town) to buy fiction. I can find the books I really want to read via the internet, looking inside the cover on Amazon, getting to know authors on Twitter, reading Reviewers blogs etc.

  2. Agreed, Carol! For the pittance they deign to cast upon the author, it just isn’t worth it!

  3. I've all but given up on going into bookshops. Other than the mega stores the selection of titles is necessarily very limited and the search process is inefficient. I'm an Amazon fan in that I can access just about anything by a quick search and also download a preview that allows me to decide whether I want to fork out. In the case of more expensive but high quality books I often pass the recommendation to a library that I'm a member of. Bookstore owners need to face up to the fact that the paradigm has changed. I also agree fully as regards royalties. Well said Carol!

  4. What a great article that says it all.
    I am an indie children's story book writer and my books have 5 star awards and as mentioned above are edited and illustrated professionally.
    I know they are good and as comparable to any traditionally published book but this is only little old me. In addition I am incompetition with 'Scholastic' and 'Usborne' who have the access to schools. (With good books but would take mine with an 80% discount - um no thank you!)
    It is sad when an indipendent book shop (or for that matter a library too)is struggling and does not appreciate your struggle.
    I understand but despite my local links having to go to Waterstones head office is, as said, like giving in your homework!
    Thanks for this but I suppose I will just plod on!

  5. Hi Carol, long time since we last greeted or tweeted. Good article on the pompous critic who only has eyes for established recommends on works by a selective section of authors most of whom they have no idea about either. We should name them the Secret Society of Preferred Publications the SSPP perhaps. Or maybe the 'People Like Us Minimal Purveyors' The PLUMPS of the savoured words. ;-)


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