It’s no secret that traditional (aka printed) publishing has come under fire in recent years from eReaders and dwindling readerships, despite claims to the contrary from Tim Waterstone at the recent Oxford Literary Festival. I remember walking into my first lecture as an English student in September 2009: the room was filled with young men and women who dreamed of one day having a book published with their name on the cover. However, as we worked our way through the years of study and became more and more familiar with the contemporary publishing industry, burning intent faded into wistful ambition. Editors were too hard to reach, the market was drying up; these and other tales helped cushion the blow.


However, there is always more than one way to skin a cat. There’s been something of a revolution in the world of publishing, as more and more budding authors have decided to ignore being ignored by the established houses and publish their work themselves. As such, it was great to hear that The Guardian is teaming up with publisher Legend Times to identify and support worthy self-published novels on a monthly basis.

While the concept of self-publishing in nothing new (Laurence Sterne published Tristram Shandy, one of the greatest comic novels ever written in my humble opinion, in 1759), the cost of production has dropped dramatically. Whereas the cost of hiring a printing press and raw materials was prohibitively dear for a majority of writers back in the 18th century, it is much easier nowadays to disseminate work digitally, on eReaders, iPads and all other manner of technical wizardry.


Furthermore, anyone who still thinks that self-publishing is just another meaningless way of sticking two fingers up at the establishment is sorely mistaken. David Wong, one of the writers at, decided to self-publish his novel, John Dies at the End, in serialised form over the web. Those of you who clicked that link might be confused as to why it redirected you to an IMDB page – the novel was picked up and turned into a movie starring Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown.

So obviously there’s a market and an audience for self-published books, and I hope that this latest joint-venture by The Guardian and Legend Times shines a much-deserved spotlight onto some deserving and provoking novels.