Friday, 18 April 2014

Self-publisher alert

The Guardian has joined forces with publisher Legend Times to award a prize every month to the best self-published novels in any genre. Alison Flood's article explains: new figures show selfies (my word for self-published!) accounted for 1 in 5 of the 80m ebooks bought in 2013. The mainstream publishing industry cannot ignore what people choose to read any longer.
Hugh Howey, Barry Eisler, Steven Berkoff and David Mamet are among the successful ebook authors.

The Guardian and Legend's new prize is open to self-published novels written in the English language – translations are also welcome – and submissions will be read by a Legend's readers' panel. They will draw up a shortlist of up to 10 titles a month that will then be read by expert judges, with the winning entry to be reviewed in the Guardian, online or in the paper.

Claire Armitstead, literary editor of the Guardian, said the paper had decided to launch the prize because "the phenomenon of self-publishing over the last couple of years has become too big for any of us to ignore". 

The prize aims to find the "brilliant" self-published books, to "bring these gems to the forefront". Tom Chalmers, MD of Legend Times thinks  "People in the publishing industry and literary awards in general are often too quick to disregard the work of self-published authors, missing the wealth of creativity and innovative writing there is out there." 
He added,  "We are hoping to be a magnet to find the needle in the haystack. Everyone has a computer these days, and everyone is writing, which is brilliant, but it also means the market is completely flooded. That makes it quite hard if you don't have a natural social media presence to get your work to the top, and to get noticed."

Submissions for the Guardian Legend Times Self-Published Novel of the Month will be open for the first fortnight of each calendar month, with the exception of this month's submission period, which will run from April 8-18. Authors can submit one novel a month, in any fictional genre. The book must have been self-published after 31 December 2011.

Once the readers have winnowed submissions down to a shortlist, a panel of experts, featuring the literary agent Andrew Lownie, Legend Press's commissioning editor Lauren Parsons, traditionally published author Stuart Evers and HarperCollins-author-turned-DIY-poster-girl Polly Courtney, will choose each month's winner.

Armitstead added: "It's all too easy to dismiss the self-publishing sector as a wilderness of elves, sex and high-school romcoms, but we know from the emergence of novels such as Sergio de la Pava's A Naked Singularity – a book we'd love to have discovered – that 'there's gold in them thar hills'. So we're embracing the frontier spirit and setting off to pan for it."

• Entries for April should be sent to by April 18, with "Self-Published Book of the Month Submission" in the subject line. You can find more details of eligibility, terms and conditions here.

• How to enter the Guardian Legend self published book of the month competition


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