February 8, 2012

New society for self-published authors will help self-published authors to deal with the publishers that… don’t… publish… them?


Orna Ross

The Bookseller reports that Orna Ross, a former literary agent and twice Penguin-published, now self-published author, is soon to launch the first non-profit organisation representing self-published authors’ interests, The Alliance of Independent Authors. Specifically, that will mean organising conferences, establishing a network, providing support, and giving advice about contracts and payments. Bafflingly, the article quotes her as saying:

We will be speaking up on behalf of independent authors, and making links with booksellers, wholesalers, agents and legacy publishers, so people have an idea of what our creative needs are. It requires a change of attitude both in writers and in other players. In the past, the author was a resource to be mined, but indie authorship is about meeting the publisher as a partner.

Err… what? Isn’t indie authorship about not meeting the publisher at all? About sidestepping them because they’ve been deemed to add little to no value to the publishing process? We don’t want to heap scorn on all self-published authors — that’s as ridiculous as self-published authors heaping scorn on all traditional publishing houses, which only happens, oh, about every second of every day. We know the value of our editorial, marketing, publicity and design expertise, but publishing has always been a tough industry, and of course there are some talented writers (and lots of less talented ones) who choose to explore non-traditional options. The thing that baffles me is: if Ross truly believes that self-publishing is the future of the industry, why involve ‘legacy’ (ugh) publishers in the conversation at all? Could it be that we do still have more than a little to offer?


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.