As an increasing number of DIY authors climb the digital bestseller lists, book prizes will have to rethink their entry criteria
Posted by Liz Bury
A self-published book reaching the top of the charts is losing its power to surprise. Certainly it's less shocking than it might have been a few years ago to learn that Violet Duke's self-published romance novels, Falling for the Good Guy and Choosing the Right Man nabbed two spots on this week's iBookstore bestseller chart, alongside the likes of JK Rowling and Dan Brown.
It's safer for an editor at a mainstream publishing house to buy a book that reads a lot like last year's bestseller, than to stick out their neck in support of an unproven concept that might not deliver. But readers have no such reason to be cautious, so buyer power is increasingly setting the agenda in mass-market publishing.
New digital bestseller lists, such as the Kindle and iBookstore charts, are helping self-published authors be seen. And then there's EL James, whose stuff-of-dreams rise from self-published writer of fan fiction to multimillionaire bestselling author earned her pole position on Forbes's list of the year's highest-earning authors.
But the barriers to success for literary authors are still formidable. Sergio de la Pava first published A Naked Singularity on Xlibris, but he only won the $25,000 PEN/Robert W Bingham award after it was picked up by "proper" publisher Chicago University Press.
Most literary awards are closed to self-published books. Entry criteria for the Booker prize state that "self-published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically set up to publish that book", while the Bailey's women's prize for fiction stipulates that books must come from a "bone fide imprint".
As more authors choose to go it alone, literary prize administrators will soon be playing catch-up.
You can find the original article at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/aug/16/self-publishing-l...
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