Self-publishing: what's your personal read?

"Capitvated" - Adolphe-Alexandre Lesrel
Many indie authors delight in the 'revolutionary' autonomy of this new way of working. But has it had a similarly radical effect on readers?

For Orna Ross, founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors , it feels like the 1960s. "Something really revolutionary is happening and it's incredibly exciting to be part of that." Speaking on this week's Books podcast she describes how as an author who had been published by Attic Press and Penguin she was sceptical at first, but as soon as she pressed that "publish" button for the first time she realised she was doing something "radical, really revolutionary within my world". She hymns the heady pleasures of taking control of your own work, of publishing your own books in the way you had envisaged them, at a rhythm you can determine yourself. For her, the stigma that used to surround the idea of publishing your own work has completely evaporated. "Self-publishing is not for every writer," she says, "but every writer should self-publish at least once."

The Books podcast: Self-publishing revolution Link to this audio
  You might want to quibble with star self-publisher Hugh Howey's figures, or with the sweeping conclusions he draws from them, but with an ever-increasing roster of bestselling authors and almost 400,000 titles self-published in the US each year, the revolution is clearly having an effect on writers. Mark Coker's indie author manifesto puts writers front and centre on the barricades when he declares an author's "right to publish", to decide "when, where and how … [their] writing graduates to become a published book", and declares: "My writing is valuable and important. This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone." But what about the readers?

My own reading life is stuck somewhere in the late 20th century. I don't read much on screen. I don't often use a Kindle. Much of my reading is found among the early copies or proofs which deluge this office by the sackful. I borrow books from my local library and sometimes buy them from my local bookshop. But I'm painfully aware that my reading life is pretty untypical. So what does the self-publishing revolution mean for you? Are you spending your time virtually fishing for pearls on Smashwords or are you still running your actual finger along actual shelves? Is the balance of your reading shifting from traditionally-published books to tomorrow's indie stars? Or maybe you don't really care how the book you're reading was produced – as long as it's good enough to keep on reading.
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