The Rise of Self Publication

University assessments have rolled around again and this comes in hand with me neglecting my writing duties. Any spare moment that I have I am currently putting into my essays but I can assure you that I will be back more regularly soon.

Currently I am blogging once at month for my job at Loughborough University, here for fun (when I can find the time), and now I am also being assessed on the group creation of a blog for one of my modules. Blogging has now taken over my life! I thought as I’ve been inactive here for a while I would share one of my more recent articles that has been shared on the assessment page with you: if you would like to read more about our group presentation about the modern day publishing industry feel free to visit – enjoy!

The standard format of the publication of texts has remained the same for hundreds of years. Despite advancements in technology such as the constantly changing format of the printing press, the process of publishing work has remained similar. A manuscript delivered to either a printer or an editor, finalising a draft to ensure it’s both correct and conveys the accurate message and finally marketing and selling the text to the target audience. However, it can be argued that William Caxton, the original founder of the printing press actually dealt with self-publication as people would come to him to print out manuscripts for either their own gain or that of their patron.

There are many reasons why authors are now considering self-publication, these can range from the speed of publication, freedom of expression and the fear of a cherished work being rejected by countless companies. However, the most predominant reason appears to be to remain in control of the rights to your own work. One of the most successful self-publication stories comes from the author Brenna Aubrey who penned her debut romance novel ‘At Any Price’ in 2013 and launched it herself onto the Amazon Kindle. She made a profit of £16,588 within a month and subsequently went on to turn down a six figure deal from one of the UK’s big five publishing houses. Aubrey reports that her reasoning behind this was, ‘… the sticky issue of copyright that swung [her] towards self-publishing’[1] Deals such as this require authors to surrender the full rights and control of their work which are based upon your yearly sales. It is and always has been a business decision, however with more and more tools being made accessible to anyone the trend of authors opting to manage their work themselves is becoming a norm. Gerald Jackson explains that: “only in the last decade that digital printing has become a viable alternative to traditional lithographic printing, and only in the last year or so that e-books have finally begun to show real promise as a new publishing platform’[2].

In this new digital age, the option of self-publication is much more prevalent than in the days of the original printing press. Sites such as WordPress allow anybody to build a website from scratch and publish articles on whatever they choose. Due to the rise of the internet ‘vlogger’ in the past decade, the amount of people choosing to create an individual brand and market their work through various different social media channels is rapidly increasing. WordPress is predominantly a free site, though offers upgrades and different packages to allow you access to more features and themes for a subscription fee. The option to go ‘self-hosted’ is also becoming more popular which gives the owner the ability to make money off their own advertising and articles. They have full control and the process can provide excellent on-hand experience in marketing in the modern day climate.

In addition, in recent years we have also seen the rise of the self-publication of novels. The most famous case study of this is E.L James’ erotic ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy which began life as Twilight Fan fiction published on an open site under a pseudonym. James then opted to self-publish her text as an e-book before branching out to paperback sales. This is the most successful self-publication story with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ surpassing J.K. Rowling’s record in 2012 to become the bestselling book of all time[3]. However it must be noted that the figure of 5.3 million books comprises of 3.8 million printed books and the remainder e-texts – printed texts clearly still have their place in the hearts and on the shelves of the British public.

We must consider whether Publishers actually demonstrate any role or purpose in this modern day era or whether they are slowly becoming redundant. This also depends on your definition of an author. Is an author just someone who publishes words or symbols in a language that is coherent to us? In this case, do our social media accounts distinguish us as authors? Personally, if I were an author attempting to get a text published I would feel that the editorial, design, marketing and sales processes would enable my text to be both critiqued and improved and developed by people with better skills than myself, thus creating a better final product. As Jackson points out in respect of publishers: ‘Not only do they act as gatekeepers to select the best texts … but they also improve these texts through their own editorial efforts … provide them with a voice and a route to market, and handle all the practicalities of matching supply to demand.’[4]

We cannot deny that self-publication is a book market that will continue to grow exponentially over the coming years. There are still issues associated with self-publication, such as how to guarantee the quality of published scholarship associated with the publication of academic books and journals and hence receive the stamp of quality and approval that a scholarly press confers on its books[5]. However, to conclude, it appears that the success of self-publication is bringing about a new wave of authors into the 21st Century. As Damian Walter states: ‘The “hybrid” author, who retains control of eBook rights while signing print only publishing deals, may become the new standard for publishing’[6]


[1] Damien Walter, ‘Self-Publishing: is it killing the mainstream?’ The Guardian, 14 February 2014 <>%5Baccessed 5th March 2017] (para 4 of 7).

[2] Gerald Jackson, ‘Why Self-Publish’ Getting Published: Comments and Advice for academic authors, 21st August 2009 <; [accessed 5th March 2017] (para 2 of 22).

[3] Anita Singh, ’50 Shades of Grey is the best-selling book of all time’ The Telegraph, 7th August 2012 <; [accessed 5th March 2017] (para 3 of 11).

[4] Gerald Jackson, ‘Have publishers any role or purpose today?’ Getting Published: Comments and Advice for academic authors, 28th August 2009 <; [accessed 5th March 2017] (para 4 of 23).

[5] Jackson, ‘Have publishers any role or purpose today? (para 22 of 22).

[6] Walter, ‘Self-Publishing: is it killing the mainstream?’ (para 6 of 7).


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