In Defence Of The Self-Published Author

In Defence Of The Self-Published Author

While reading the following poem, which has always been a favourite of mine, I couldn’t help but think of the similarity with the current debate and divide over self-published books compared with traditionally published titles.

Being a self-published author has become a bit city and the bush – New York and London against the world one might say.

While many are beset on comparing the incorrect use of the Oxford comma in self-published titles, I really think they are missing the point.

Self-publishing is about stories, wonderful and never before published stories from the hearts and minds of passionate people. Rugged yes.


But a rugged beauty that like Mr Lawson, many just can’t see for looking.

What Is A Self Published Author

In Defence Of The Bush by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson

So you’re back from up the country, Mister Lawson, where you went,
And you’re cursing all the business in a bitter discontent;
Well, we grieve to disappoint you, and it makes us sad to hear
That it wasn’t cool and shady — and there wasn’t plenty beer,
And the loony bullock snorted when you first came into view;
Well, you know it’s not so often that he sees a swell like you;
And the roads were hot and dusty, and the plains were burnt and brown,
And no doubt you’re better suited drinking lemon-squash in town.

Continue reading this classic poem In Defence of the Bush here.

As a boy from the bush myself, I have to admit to being a little tired of the Manhattan city slicker line that sings to an all too very familiar tune.

‘This writer really needs an editor.’ Sure, but hey, where’s even a little mention of the story? Did you notice that at all while you were spotting the incorrect use of the Oxford comma?

Just as Patterson and Lawson debated in poetry over one hundred years ago, there is beauty in many things, but only if you want to look for it.

If you are always wearing blinkers, you’ll never see it, though.

A vast majority of self-published authors share their stories with the world for little financial reward.

According to the Taleist SelfPublishing Survey, 50% of self-published authors earned under $500 in 2011 from their books and 10% of those surveyed authors earned over 75% of the total revenue.

As the survey was conducted using data from just 1,007 authors who volunteered their earnings information, I would venture to conclude that there are many more self-published authors who earn less than $500 per year from book sales.

Many, if not all of these authors would love to be able to afford the services of a professional editor, cover designer, marketing manager and perhaps even a tea lady.

But on earnings of less than $500 per year, the notion is ridiculous unless some New York and London editors have suddenly become philanthropic and are willing to provide their services at an affordable ‘bush’ price.

So while those who criticise misunderstand and apply their expensive city logic to the paltry income of the self-publishing bush, they may want to consider what these self-published authors have achieved for very little reward.



What self-published authors have achieved

**** In excess of 3,000 titles are available every day for free on the Kindle Store alone. Plenty of choice for those who love to read, or find fault (for free).

**** Ebook prices have fallen due to the competition created by self-published titles.

**** No one went near erotic romance until self-publishing was bold enough to do so. Traditional publishing has become a follower and is now cashing in on a genre they wouldn’t have touched just a few years ago.

**** Electronic readers such as Kindle owe their popularity and sales to the huge choice of cheap and free content provided by self-published authors and not to the lack of enthusiasm shown by traditional publishers, who initially fought the change to e-reading.

Self-publishing has made it easy for traditional publishers to find new and marketable authors to add to their stables, and with little risk, as they pick and choose the cream of indie authors.

Yes, it’s easy to criticise and compare the city with the bush, but perhaps it’s time to congratulate self-publishing and its authors who have rekindled the love of reading with their passion for writing and their willingness to accept little financial reward in return.

If you can’t see this aspect, then please stay away from reading any self-published books in future; particularly when they have been obtained for free, and go back to paying a New York or London publisher and reading Jane Austen or Victor Hugo again.

But if you can understand, perhaps you will respect the work of a self-published author.


Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

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