“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf, the original self-publishing guru, paved the way for many female authors who have chosen to by-pass the publishing house and publish their own books.
According to a recent article in the Guardian, more and more female authors are choosing to self-publish and are doing so quite successfully.
The success of EL James and her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy did much to overturn the stereotype of a self-published author. Now academic research further challenges the image of eccentric hobbyists scribbling away in their sheds by revealing that it is middle-aged and well-educated women who dominate the growing e-publishing market.
Alison Baverstock, an associate professor in publishing at Kingston University, Surrey, said her research showed a clear gender split, with 65% of self-publishers being women and 35% men. Nearly two-thirds of all self-publishers are aged 41 to 60, with a further 27% aged over 61. Half are in full-time employment, 32% have a degree and 44% a higher degree.
The most telling point about self-published authors and their books, is their close connection to the reader and reading trends. In the current market, large publishing houses are clinging more and more to celebrity authors and genres that guarantee sales. These literary gatekeepers decide what type of books will be available to readers and are more often than not, out of touch with the actual trends among readers. How often have we heard as authors that our genre ‘just isn’t right for our lists’? I mean, who could have predicted the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy? Another self-publishing success story – if that’s your cup of tea. And that’s the point – it is thanks to self-publishing and the courageous efforts of independent authors that we have a more diverse and varied pool of creative writing to choose from.
And whether we like to admit it or not, there is a certain amount of sexism in publishing. Take the recent example of author Catherine Nichols who, after submitting her manuscript to publishers under a male pseudonym, found that she received eight times the number of responses she had received under her own name. You can read the full story here. So even though self-publishing might seem (at the outset) a scary place to be, it might just be the level playing field that our books deserve.
Just as independent musicians, film makers and artists produce a more exciting mix of talent in each of their disciplines, indie authors offer an important alternative to the mainstream. Today’s indie writer is completely au fait with the publishing industry from page to print, hiring freelance editors, designers and promoters to produce a high quality product that meets, if not surpasses, the traditionally published titles we have all come to expect. It is such an exciting time to be a female writer and self-publishing has never been more accessible. However, it is the readers that will ultimately determine the success of self-published books.
You can read the full article here.
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