Dan Holloway writes for the Guardian Books Blog, is the co-author of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ book Opening Up to Indie Authors, is a poet and self-published author. We asked him to tell us about his 6 years experience in self-publishing.
Category Archives: Guest Post
Last week The Bookseller reported that big Publishers in the US are giving away $250m in free e-books as part of the Obama scheme. While this is a great initiative that will make children with low-income families (but who can afford e-readers) have easier access to discovering reading, this alone will not be not enough. Yes, it is tempting to throw money (or free books) at the problem, but doing so only creates a temporary fix. If we truly want to get to the root of the problem, we have to dig deeper.
Roz Morris published nearly a dozen novels and achieved sales of more than 4 million copies – and nobody saw her name because she was a ghostwriter. She is now proudly selfpublishing as herself with two acclaimed literary novels My Memories of a Future Life and Lifeform Three. She has also been a writing coach, editor and mentor for more than 20 years with award-winning authors among her clients. We asked Roz about the challenges of her unique path to success.
Rufus is Editor, New Writing at Curtis Brown Creative. A former travel, food and lifestyle journalist, Rufus’s work has been published in The Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times, Condé Nast Traveller and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, among others.
In a relatively short period of time, less than a year, long-held fears have been realised as the multinational publishing companies familiar to many took the decision to shed staff and operations in New Zealand, some scaling back to Australia.
To various observers (especially British, whose industry’s scale lends it a robustness that makes comparisons with New Zealand difficult) it appeared to be a fatal series of events; the New Zealand publishing industry was on its way out. A national newspaper piece last month sensationalised the doom, with a curious range of prognoses from significant figures.
There are many reasons I disagree with such a bleak, broad assessment, and could proselytise, not least about the brilliantly dedicated and creative work of many of the independent publishers over here. Recent changes and trends, regardless of how out of our control they may feel, will not prevent the ongoing creation and consumption of many fantastic New Zealand titles – there is too much ingenuity and appetite from readers for it to come to that. However, with an eye firmly on the evolving publishing landscape being identified and addressed by whitefox, it is worth emphasising one aspect in particular – that the more the traditional industry fragments, shrinks, adapts and modernises in New Zealand, the more opportunities arise for talented freelancers (editors, designers, techies, specialists) to plug traditional gaps and fill emerging roles.
New Zealand publishing, conventionally with small in-house teams, has relied upon gifted freelancers for a good while already, many of whom owe their skills to time once spent in-house. Now a new generation of publishing creative types are emerging. At Te Papa Press, the publishing arm of the national museum, we are shifting towards a multimedia publishing programme, involving specialists, skills and content that have only recently become integral parts of the publishing process and redefine what we consider ‘publishing’ to be. One of the most encouraging things I’ve witnessed in the industry here is a reluctance to sit back and wait for the UK or the US to point the way. Publishers are getting on with meeting challenges and exploring opportunities by embracing these new skills. The work of Steam Press, BWB and Booktrack are just a few examples.
Additionally, the self-publishing trend, rather than establishing a straightforward shift of power and control to the author, will actually shed light on the necessity of quality and the importance of the well-honed skills of all those involved in carrying an idea through to an excellently produced, delivered and marketed book, ebook, app, whatever it may be.
If New Zealand publishing continues to adapt and take risks, we can hopefully expect to enjoy other Eleanor Catton moments long into the future.