Last month, I (Kim) attended the Publishing Scotland annual book trade conference.  It was a very interesting event – I experienced a full range of emotions from blood boiling rage to cheering optimistically on the sidelines.

Keynote speaker Andrew Franklin, MD of Profile Books described self-publishing authors as a weakness as he explored a SWOT analysis of the publishing industry. In his words “all self publishing is dross as they don’t do what we (real publishers) do! They don’t edit, design good covers, layout book interiors properly or market their books.  In fact – they all would love to be published by you guys (real publishers).”  Yes you guessed this is the point my blood was boiling!

Professional Indie writers know full well what is required to publish a book.  SO yes Andrew – we do all of the above and more.  Not only that but we do it with limited budgets but we often produce a much better result than some of the “real guys”.

Publishing Scotland, Chief Exec’s opening remarks were “publishing needs to explore new ways of doing business”.  So why are Indie’s seen as a weakness?  Are we really still viewed as a joke and somehow belittling the world of books?

Industry figures suggest that the average adult in the UK only buys 2 books a year and we have a high rate of illiteracy (17%) among our population. If this is true then the work of top professional Indie Author Stuart Reid should be applauded.  Stuart takes his fun loving workshops to schools as he encourages kids to read books.  His Reading Rocks events have captured the imagination of kids,teachers and parents. His entrepreneurial approach allows him to earn a living while playing his part in improving literacy rates.

Mr Franklin, is one of the industry dinosaurs who has no understanding of the quality of the work being produced by professional Indie Authors.  Not only that – he is delusional to think that all authors want a publishing deal.
The author is the heart of our business – was a repeated theme at the conference.  Yet there was only one author speaking as part of a panel at the conference.  That author was Scottish crime writer, Lin Anderson, who spoke in defence of self publishing.  She is a hybrid author – who has both traditional and self-published works.  She raised a very valid point about author earnings.  The average earnings of a writer in the UK is £11,000 a year.  This is well below the living wage!  Lin gets paid every month from her self-published work – money straight into her bank account.  She needs to eat too and even ALDI don’t work on I’ll pay you when my publisher decides that royalties will be paid.

So Mr Franklin – please explain why would I want a publishing deal?

A highlight of the conference was the presentation by Steve Bohme of Nielsen.  I would never have guessed that “The Key Retail Market Trends 2014/15” would have me laughing and cheering.  (No, I never had any alcohol before this.)  You will have to wait until next month to get some of the figures from the content of the presentation but Steve pulled off a fab floor show.  Bookwars VI – A New Hope was the title and he used the Star Wars theme really well to explain the current state of the industry.

Good news for all Indie Authors out there – we were seen as the good guys!  We are the Rebel Alliance who are challenging and defeating the Imperial forces (the traditional book world).  In fact self-published books sales have increased to 22% of the UK eBook market and are helping to generate growth in book sales worldwide.

So we maybe aren’t such a weakness in the system after all!

- Kim Macleod

1 Comment

  • Julia Lister Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 9:42 am.

    Fabulous article, thanks, Kim.

    My initial training in book publishing was very much traditional. It was so long ago that I even learnt to set type by hand! However, based on my distant memories of (at least some) traditional publishers, I’m not too surprised at Andrew Franklin’s comments. It’s often the case, though, that people who are afraid of something new tend to ridicule it in order to make themselves feel safer… perhaps that’s where he was coming from?

    In any case, from my point of view, the Rebel Alliance rocks!

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