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Agents' U-turn on Self Publishing

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
Agents' U-turn on self publishingI'm sure we all remember that expression 'tsunami of crap' with reference to self-published books. Not sure where it originated, but the expression was bandied about a lot two or three years ago. An article in the Wall Street Journal by Eric Felton in July 2011 titled Cherish the Book Publishers - You'll Miss Them When They Are Gone bemoaned the fact that anyone could publish an ebook, and worse, sell it to a gullible public. 

Apparently Eric had a friend in publishing whose job it was to read the slush pile. In two years, she only found one 'marginally plausible submission' to pass on to her boss. (One does wonder how she kept her job, when she clearly wasn't any good at it.) And now, these appalling amateur books would be loosed on readers, who had hitherto enjoyed a limited selection pre-filtered by experts in publishing. It would be a disaster! Readers would be unable to cope! Good books would be drowned in a tsunami of crap!

I went to a meeting run by IPR License this week. There were two agents on the panel, Andrew Lownie and Louisa Pritchard, and both of them said that self-publishing, even for those intent on a traditional contract, was a sensible thing for an author to do. Sitting in the bus on the way home, it came to me just how enormous the changes have been in the publishing industry in the short time I've been writing. Though some don't like what they see as the new orthodoxy, and outposts of insanity like AbsoluteWrite will die rather than change their minds, among those who work in publishing there's been something of a 180 degree turn.

(I must say, I'm not at all sure about this being patted on the head by literary agents.  I rather liked being a wild free indie, an outcast from traditional publishing. Approval is not what I'm used to.)

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