Smug? Me? Nahhh! - Simon Cheshire

One of the things which seems to characterise this whole DIY publishing revolution is the attitude gap between writers and publishers.

Mainstream publishers need to be able to all but guarantee the market for a book before they publish it. Entirely sensible. They can't afford to do otherwise. But writers don't. We write something. We publish it. We let the market decide. We can't afford to do otherwise!

Which way is best? That's for time and market analysts to tell. In the meantime, I'm just grateful that the whole DIY publishing revolution is here to prove one point: I was right n' they were wrong, ha ha, in yer face etc etc.

Some years ago, I wrote a book for 8-12 year olds called "Pants On Fire". I was very pleased with it, but publishers weren't. They said the main character was too unlikeable, and it wouldn't sell. I kept nagging my poor agent to find it a home, because I couldn't understand that point of view. Plenty of books have flawed heroes. Kids aren't daft, they can see what's what. It's COMEDY, for goodness' sake! Anyway, it ended up in the bottom drawer.

Along comes the whole DIY publishing revolution. I'll take a chance, I think to myself. "Pants On Fire", print and ebook editions, came blinking into the sunlight last year. And since then, it's been the consistent bestseller of all my self-published books (mostly backlist reprints, one or two originals). It always gets the best response from kids when I visit schools - I sell out of that book at signings faster than any other - and I know grown-ups read it too.

Are smug little triumphs like this a good thing or not? I honestly don't know. There's no way I want mainstream publishers to lose out, I want them to stay a vital part of the book business, I really do. But every time another Konrath comes along, or another Hocking, or another "Pants On Fire", things tip a little further away from the establishment. And I'm not sure that's healthy for the industry as a whole.


Dan Holloway said…
Hi Simon!
Nothing quite so satisfying as succeeding under one's own steam.

Interesting what you say about the Konraths and Hockings. As someone who went into self-publishing because I saw it as a haven for the misfit manuscripts, the uncommercial and the, in all honesty, downright odd, I feel the opposite - every Amanda and Joe (and over here the lovely Mark and Louise, whm I greatly admire as well as like on a personal level) makes me feel as though the self-publishing world is becoming more like the mainstream I was trying to get away from, and the result is that I feel squeezed urther to the side.
Debbie Bennett said…
I think your title has a lot to do with it, Simon. I mean "Pants on Fire"? What kid wouldn't want to read a book with a title like that? Inspirational.

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