A publisher said to me last week that there really is no point worrying over a slush pile anymore, that self-publishing and the democratisation of routes to market meant that content a traditional publisher would deem worthy of investment would naturally rise to the surface. And all a commissioning editor would need to do is be vigilant and not miss the next potential bestseller. Has it really all become so simple and Darwinian?
And what should we call this new content? It needs a new name. Not ‘vanity’. ‘Self-published’ feels too DIY and still a little stigmatised. Successful indie writers (as they would be called in US) want to be treated like authors in traditional publishing houses. But they do want to have control. As I write this I keep hearing Joe Strummer singing “They said we’d be artistically free/ When we signed that bit of paper./ They meant, let’s make lots of money/ And worry about it later.”