Self-publishing has made it clear that “readers want very different things to what publishers in London and Manhattan think readers want”, Orna Ross of the Alliance of Independent Authors has said.
Speaking at an event debating the best route to publishing for authors, Ross said self-publishing, a term she said she was “not wild about”, meant there was more choice for readers, including books that would never have been picked up by a traditional publishing house.
“I think the old [publishing] model is in flux and needs to change,” Ross said. “I think what’s happening is overall very positive. It’s good for readers because they have more choice and more access.”
Joining Ross on the panel on Monday night (10th November) were Suzie Doore, editorial director at Hodder & Stoughton, literary agent Juliet Mushens from The Agency Group, and author Dominic Selwood, who has been traditionally published and has self-published.
Mushens and Doore both said their roles may have changed slightly, but were still essential in the publishing process. “We are the middle men between authors and publishers,” said Mushens. “It’s a very close relationship. You’re the negotiator. You’re there as a kind of sounding board slash counsellor. Having someone there like me who an author can pick up the phone too when they’re having a wobble is a hugely beneficial thing.
“A big part of being an agent is supporting the author.”
Doore said that as well as edition, it was her job to be “the book’s champion alongside the agent”.
“We are the person who is the talent spotter, who says this book should be part of our business,” she added.
Selwood said both traditional publishing and self-publishing were “successful models but are different businesses”. Traditional publishing was about a number of things including building a brand, and at its centre was risk and reward, he said. On self-publishing, he said: “On the other hand you have the ability as an individual to hold the levers of power and decide your own creativity if the only limit.”
The debate was organised by Byte the Book and held at The Club at the Ivy yesterday (10th November).