There's a lot of controversy and comment in the blogosphere about the Arts Council sponsored author site YouWriteOn.com and it's arrangement with Legend Press to print 5000 authors by Christmas. Many commentators have derided it on the grounds that it is not a means to commercial success and that it is cheating authors. I wanted to have my say.
I am one of the 5000, and my novel Schaefer's Integrity is going to be printed by this scheme. The manuscript has been sitting on my computer gathering dust (so to speak) since 2002, and was doing nothing while I went on to write other things. I had submitted the novel to a handful of agents who all rejected it with the standard letter.
Schaefer's Integrity is a science fiction novel. I get the impression that sci-fi is not in fashion at the moment. I haven't seen much decent new sci-fi on my local Waterstones bookshelf lately. Sci-fi seems to live more strongly in the small press. i think the ebb and flow of enthusiasm in sci-fi is mostly led by the film industry.
I have no aspirations for the novel other than I know it is readable and enjoyable. Those who have read early drafts have told me so. People who have read my short stories, and Spireclaw have given me great feedback and have asked me when I'm going to produce my next piece.
So why not use this as a medium to enable my 89,000 word novel to be read in a way other than on a computer monitor. I know I'm not going to get a Hollywood film deal out of it, or even sell all that many copies. But it's a way of reinvigorating a piece of text I didn't know what to do with, and I'm looking forward to being able to promote it on my website.
The irony is, the more negative publicity this scheme gets from all the bloggers and forum posters out there, the more publicity the books themselves will get when they finally appear.