Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
They used to call it the "vanity press," and the phrase itself spoke volumes. Self-published authors were considered not good enough to get a real publishing contract. They had to pay to see their book in print. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing has exploded, and a handful of writers have had huge best-sellers. TV blogger Alan Sepinwall's self-published book, The Revolution Was Televised, came out just before Thanksgiving. Within two weeks he had a review in The New York Times — a positive review — by the widely read and often critical Michiko Kakutani, who also named it one her favorite books of the year. This is what book publicists and their writers dream of, and Sepinwall didn't even see it coming. "I was sitting at my computer on the Monday, the day before it ran," he says, "and all of a sudden I see an email from a Times photo editor saying, 'Hi, The Times will be running a review of your book tomorrow, we need an author photo. Can you help us?' " Turns out Kakutani is a fan of Sepinwall's popular blog, What's Alan Watching?, and her review almost immediately helped boost sales of his book. But that doesn't happen to most self-published writers. Hanna Brooks Olsen was happy just to see a published version her book, Hanged Man's Leap. "It was way more exciting than I thought it was going to be," she says. "I immediately told any of my friends who I knew had e-readers, and I obviously emailed my mother too, with a link." . Full piece here