OPuS Event: Self-Publishing: Just Vanity Publishing Under a New Name?

10/25/2014 04:04:00 pm

On Thursday, I stuck around campus for a few hours to attend my first Oxford Publishing Society event which was held at Oxford Brookes University. Despite the long and tiring week, I was excited to see what the six speakers at this event had to say about Self-Publishing and was actually pleasantly surprised at the positive attitude most of the speakers had toward this blossoming industry and its effect on publishers.

Dr. Alison Baverstock, author of The Naked Author, started the event I felt her statements were the ones that stuck with me most. She viewed self-publishing as a form of responsibility, defining the act of self-publishing as "taking responsibility for the management of content." Anyone who has self-published can attest to this statement, knowing that the entirety of your book's success or failure is your responsibility. That is, as Alison mentioned, an empowering feeling. I think Ruth Fielder, Sales Controller at Albury Books, summed up this best when she stated that self-publishing "shouldn't attract the stigma" it has been branded with and I whole-heartedly agree.

Many of the other speakers built upon Alison's statement that the term "vanity publishing" is horribly "out-dated" and "inappropriate." Publishers are realizing that the majority of content that self-publishers are generating is interesting and high quality. James Rennoldson, Digital Product Manager for Writers & Artists at Bloomsbury, noted that "the technology is there" and "the quality is there" for self-publishers to be gaining credibility as authors and as professional small/micro-publishers. Bloomsbury (of Harry Potter fame) has even released "Bloomsbury Spark" which accepts YA and New Adult manuscripts directly from authors to publish in ebook form. Writers & Artists has even launched a sister website which serves to "demystify" the world of self-publishing for those considering it as an option for their work.

These services prove that even though there seems to be a power struggle between traditional publishers and self-publishers, larger publishing companies are starting to recognize it as a valuable source of talent (and revenue, of course...) Clive Herbert from Neilsen Book Scan also spoke and pointed out Neilsen's free and low cost services that aid self-publishers in gathering data and metrics, a feature that we self-published authors love and live for. In fact, self-published author Talli Roland even mentioned checking her Amazon stats while in labor! These tools, from printers to advanced data and metrics, are all services that were built and are constantly being improved upon because there is a huge market of self-publishers out there and money to be made from it.

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