The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) has launched a campaign to encourage literary and book trade organisations to work more closely with self-published writers.
An Open Up to Indies petition has been set up by ALLi with the intention to lobby literary festivals, libraries and the booksellers associations of the UK, the US and Canada.
The petition, which ALLi hopes will get 10,000 signatories, states that self-published writers are producing work of “proven merit”, adds: “While recognising that there are challenges in incorporating such writers, it has become a necessity if bookstores, libraries, literary events and reviewers are to be inclusive of writers and cogniscent of readers’ requirements.”
Dan Holloway, self-published author and ALLi member, said: “I would like the Booksellers Association in the UK to encourage booksellers to recognise that indie bookshops and self-published writers are a natural partnership, and to work together with writers to exploit that partnership to their mutual benefit.”
He said self-published writers would have to work to adhere to professional standards, working alongside stores to hold events and ensuring adequate distribution arrangements, but concluded: “We think that bookstores would benefit immensely by engaging in this process as well, considering self-published books on their merits and suitability for the store and not how they are produced.”
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said: “We would be happy to speak to ALLi about how we can help each other in the future. Ultimately it is up to individual bookshops about who they choose to stock, but the first step is to get booksellers and writers together, and we can help with that.”
In August last year, Waterstones issued new guidance to its stores regarding author events, impacting on many self-published writers. The chain encouraged shops to keep “away from open-ended, handselling events”.
Former BA president Jane Streeter, who runs The Bookcase in Lowdham and helps organise the Lowdham Book Festival, said: “We do support self-published authors, especially on a local level. We will stock their books, and at the festival we will have several self-published writers taking stalls. It is a very mixed market though, because of the quality—some is excellent, and some is difficult to sell.”
Holloway also called on more literary prizes to accept indie authors, following in the path of the Folio Prize. Speaking about the new Goldsmiths Prize, he said: “It is aimed at innovative fiction which pushes the boundaries of what a novel can be. As such, it seems to be tailor-made for the experimentation that self-publishing allows, and yet they explicitly state that they are not open to self-published works, which makes no sense at all to me.”
Dr Tim Parnell, head of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “Although the Goldsmiths Prize excluded self-publishing this year, we are aware of the changing nature of self-publishing, and will review the criteria next year.”
A spokesperson for the Man Booker Prize, which does not accept self-published entries, said: “The Man Booker Prize likes to keep ahead of developments in the publishing world and the Advisory Committee reviews the submission rules on an annual basis. Whilst the prize does not currently accept self-published novels, all industry advances are considered and, if appropriate, may lead to a review of the rules in the future.”
The ALLi petition can be viewed at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/open-up-to-indie-authors