This post, by Dan Holloway, originally appeared on his The Cynical Self-Publisher.
OK, there are lots of prizes for self-published books already. There are even some prizes where the self-published can compete alongside the mainstream. This post was occasioned by the latest renewal of one of the book world’s most raucous and high profile events, the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize.
Never short of controversy, as I know, having been the publisher, at eight cuts gallery press, of one of last year’s shortlisted books, The Dead Beat, Not the Booker is also a great platform for small publishers and edgy literary books. The rules of entry have always been the same as those for the Booker. But this year, for the first time, the competition’s infinitely patient organiser Sam Jordison has made reference to the elephant in the room:
“But leaving [self-published books] out does seem increasingly anomalous in the brave new world of electronic publishing”
and he even hints at more to come
“we’ve even discussed the idea of a new and separate award for self-published novels”
The reaction has been predictably mixed. On the one hand, commenters have welcomed the thought of a self-published prize run on such a high profile forum as the Guardian. On the other, concerns were expressed about the ghettoisation of self-published books. There has been, however, an amount of consensus behind the idea expressed by the commenter lemonworld:
“I’d love to live in a literary world where we don’t spend so much time talking about HOW something is being published and instead talk even more about WHAT is being published”
I think that’s a sentiment all of us, except maybe for a few sub-editors, would concur with. The question is how to get there.