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.