In a 2018 blog titled, ‘Self-Publishers: We Want You’ the National Library of Australia says,
‘Our collection aims to provide a true reflection of Australians and Australian culture. With improvements in digital publishing and printing technologies, self-published books make up a large portion of the nation’s published output, so we are keen to ensure they are held in the collection.
I’ll point it out just in case you missed it… self-published books make up a large portion of the nation’s published output.
I don’t have stats so don’t ask me, but if self-publishers make up a large portion of Australia’s published output, (and the NLA would know since they’re the ones collecting all the books), then why are we under-represented at festivals?
Obviously, there are standards but every self-published author I have met in Australia has professionally edited and presented books with great stories. We take our books seriously and hire professionals, including freelance editors that are the very same ones that traditional publishing houses use.
I’ll digress for a moment.
When I self-published I thought holding my print book in my hand would be the ultimate moment, but it wasn’t. I was over-excited to fulfil a life-long dream of becoming an author and I was naïve – it was my first book. I didn’t know! But, of course, the best and most rewarding part of publishing was connecting with readers.
At festivals, self-published authors could connect with MORE readers but generally we are excluded. Unless we are a mega successful hybrid author who initially self-published and was then picked up by a trade publisher. The rest of us usually miss out, even if we have successful books and a horde of faithful readers.
Self-publishing gives writers the freedom to develop their own ideas and stories – and publish them. Stories that many readers love, but would never see the light of day if the only option for writers was traditional publication. Most readers do not look at who published a book. If the book is professionally presented and edited and the story grabs them, that’s what is important.
And, just because a book is not published by a traditional publisher does not mean there are not readers out there who want to read a well-written, professionally edited, heartwarming memoir about me and my travels around the globe looking for sausage dogs. Yes, we’re talking about my book, Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds. ;-) Go grab yourself a copy here (shameful plug).
Back to the readers… these are the people we are trying to connect with but it is very limiting in Australia to try and reach them when we are left out of the loop when it comes to festivals and conferences, and slip under the radar for industry reviews.
I do wonder if the Australia Council for the Arts or the state and federal governments are only interested in funding the arts (writing in this case) if a writer has been traditionally published?
Are self-published writers and their stories not deemed worthy enough for funding at festivals or funding for a dedicated self-publishing festival? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In the Australian Self Publisher newsletter by Thorpe-Bowker they cover a lot of ground including information about ISBNs, self-published author spotlights and book formatting. It’s a great newsletter.
But how good would it be if self-published writers and aspiring authors could gather – IN PERSON – to learn, discuss, and flourish at a festival that is all about self- publishing.
This is the blurb for a UK self-publishing conference:
The Self-Publishing Conference is a dedicated self-publishing event, offering authors a chance to find out about a wide range of publishing options, to hear from and question those who work within the thriving self-publishing world, and to network with fellow authors, many of whom will already be experienced self-publishers.
The event attracts experienced professionals from the world of editing, marketing, production, design and distribution. The event aims to educate, inform and inspire authors who are publishing their own work, or who are considering that as a route to market.
Australia, please, can we have one too? One whole day dedicated to self-publishing. Or two days? With an evening meet & greet. And wine. My bags are already packed.
There is a market for self-publishers and our books but there is a distinct lack of representation at Australian festivals. I’d love to see more panels and workshops geared towards self-publishing and a section at literary festivals showcasing the publications of some of Australia’s wonderful indie authors.
And FYI… Sydney Writers’ Festival… although I love you I would truly like to see the representation of self-published authors in your future programs.
Chat about making space for self-publishing on social media with Pauline Findlay and Robin Elizabeth using #SelfPubIsHere. Help self-publishers gain more recognition. Make some noise!
For more in-depth articles read Robin’s blog post ‘Let me Proposition You… With a Self-Publishing Festival and Pauline Findlay’s article on Medium ‘Why are self-published authors being ignored by Writers’ Festivals, Book Fairs and Awards?’