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Alan Moore’s Advice to Authors: Self-Publish, Because "Publishing’s a Complete Mess"

Alan MooreYesterday io9 unearthed a five-year-old video where comic book legend Alan Moore had some surprising advice for those who are trying to break into publishing.

Recorded on someone’s phone at an anti-library closure protest at St James Library, Northampton, UK, the video shows Moore start by giving the usual advice to writers.

Write everyday, he said, and be self-critical. "Don’t beat yourself up, but look at your stuff and think: I could probably have done that better. You’ll know where the weaknesses are, the little bits that don’t sparkle. Do it again, or next time you write a story try and do it a little bit better."

And then, about two minutes into the video, the Watchmen co-creator moves from talking about writing to talking about publishing, and he drops this bombshell.

"And as far as publishing goes, my third tip: Publishing today is a complete mess. I know brilliant authors who cannot get books published," He adds "Most book publishers don’t want to take a risk on fiction." His advice is to instead "publish yourself. It’s become easier and easier."

Even in 2015, it’s both surprising and refreshing for an established big name writer to be honest about an author’s chances of getting a publishing contract.

image via WikiCommons

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Mackay Bell November 20, 2015 um 12:07 pm

The saddest part is that even if you get a traditional publishing contract, low advances, life of term copyright clauses, and shady accounting usually mean you end up with much less than you could have gotten on your own.

Jon Jermey November 21, 2015 um 3:46 pm

With a few exceptions, most books will need at least as much effort put into marketing as was put into writing the book in order to have a chance at success. And even then most of them will fail. The great success stories from self-publishing are largely about authors who love self-promotion. Those of us who are unable or unwilling to spent long hours of time and effort talking up ourselves and our books may still prefer to sacrifice some income paying someone else to do it for us. But I agree with Moore that the current publishing industry is doing a lousy job of it and overcharging horrendously for most of its activity.

Charles November 23, 2015 um 4:56 am

The Wizard of Northampton comes from the world of comics, where self-publishing has a fascinating history that began long before ebooks and never had quite the same corruption that vanity publishing placed on the printed word. This is largely a result of exploitative conditions in the comic-book industry which make traditional book publishers look like saints.

Anyone interested in self-publishing could learn a lot by looking at the work of pioneers like Dave Sim (who entirely self-published his epic from 1977-2004), Wendy & Richard Pini, Jeff Smith, etc.

And yeah, Jon’s right – you need to be dedicated to self-promotion, though the internet has made that easier.

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