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What Has Self-Publishing Done for Authors?

Alysoun Owen

The editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook & the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is interviewed by the good people at

You are giving the keynote speech at the 2014 conference; what can self-publishing authors expect to hear from you during this session?

I want to consider what it is that self-publishing has opened up to writers – not merely the positives of revenue steams and speed to market, but the writerly benefits: the opportunities for working in new creative ways, of being experimental and working more collaboratively with other writers: of writing differently. There are some inspiring things happening with author co-operatives, authorpreneur ventures and crowdsource funding too, which enhance the view that self-publishing has had an important democratising effect on both the publishing world and the world of reading.

And as note of caution, I’d like authors to be reminded that it might be easy to self-publish, but that writing is still (mostly) hard work.

What have been the key factors in the recent rise of self-publishing do you think?

In a nutshell:

  • ease of going it alone (thanks to the likes of Amazon KDP and CreateSpace etc)
  • technology – the Internet allows us to publish more, more often & more cheaply
  • author control and direct access to readership
  • impatience with the traditional publishing industry
  • speed to market
  • great for short fiction, experimental fiction and niche genres
  • cost-effective and low-risk for writer
  • fashion – we can therefore we do

How has the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook changed over the years to benefit self-publishing authors?

Each year we review the content and structure of the Yearbooks and try and make them as useful as possible to writers whatever stage they are at. I’ve been the Editor for three years now, and want the Yearbook to be both a barometer of what’s taking place across the media industries and also a guidebook to navigating the media worlds. To that end, last year (the 2014 edition), we added a new section to both the main Yearbook and the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook on ‘Digital and self-publishing’. This brings together articles from industry insiders, such as Bookseller editor Philip Jones, publishers, authors (bestseller Nick Spalding) and covers all aspects of both digital books (which have of course been around for a while now) and the massive explosion in self-publishing. We have advice on selecting a self-publishing provider, marketing yourself and your electronic books and managing social media.

For the 2015 edition, we will be updating our listings of self-publishing providers. Each of these is reviewed and vetted. We are building this list slowly as we become satisfied that newcomers in the market are reputable operations that we feel happy to recommend to our readers. Of course, all articles and listings in the Yearbook – all 800+ pp – are relevant to self-published authors!

How important are events like The Self-Publishing Conference to budding authors and what will they gain by attending?

I think they can be extremely valuable as a way to ask questions and for authors to probe more deeply into the possible pros and cons of the various publishing options open to them. They are of course great fun and a valuable opportunity to network with other writers, publishers and the like.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to anyone thinking about self-publishing?

Do your homework! I’m a real stickler for getting things done properly and being as professional as possible: for your own sense of achievement and also so that you can sell something of quality too. Always read the small print when looking at what self-publishing providers are offering; don't sign a contract without reading it all first, and decide what it is you want to achieve and how much time you have yourself to devote to DIY publishing. All common sense things really, but so many rush in without studying the possible options available to them. Also, be a harsh critic of your own work – make it the very best it can be. Edit, rewrite, re-edit until you can't bear to do so any more! And of course, all the best writers are great readers too.

To find out more about this conference and book tickets, go here.

If you found this useful, we offer lots more advice on self-publishing here. If you’re looking at self-publishing your manuscript, try our self-publishing comparison engine first.