At 08:11:37 hours on 12 February 2003 shepline: the journal was born. Actually, I think it might have been a bit before then, and if I’m honest I’m not sure what the situation is regarding time zones, but it was near enough then. Here, I should perhaps mention my LJ Mother (tinyjo) and Father (oxfordslacker) without whom this journal would probably never even have existed.

My first day’s posts can still be found here. Not the greatest works of literary genius I grant you, and far be it for me to say that things have improved since then, but it’s a start, and from small starts bigger things do grow.

So how best to mark this auspicious occasion? A deep and meaningful, friends locked post about the State of Thomas four years on? No. I think rather, a rant. A positive little rant, all things considered, but a rant none-the-less. This one, originally made today, by me, in a thread on the merits or not, the quality or not, of self-publishing over at the CritiqueCircle message boards…

I still think there is a confusion here about what self-publishing means. Yes there are the truly awful books that are published by their authors purely as an ego boost to make them feel that they are a ‘proper’ writer (whatever one of those is), but don’t forget there are also hundreds if not thousands of books published each year by the ‘big’ publishers which are also suitably awful but are published none the less, not for the quality of the writing, but because the author is a ‘name’ that will sell.

The days when publishing by the big publishers is about valued judgements about what is a good book are long over. It’s a business that’s all about making money, and if celebrity biographies and ego-trip-novels by wanna be celebrity writers is the thing that publishers can market easily then that is what they will publish. Which of course means that there is less money in the pot to publish the books of quality that publishers really ought to be publish. Where should these publishers be published then? Well, with luck there will be smaller publishers starting out who can’t afford the quick bucks of the celebrity novel/biography who will take a chance at the new/existing talent writing quality books…

…but it’s getting increasingly difficult. Publishers (even the smaller one’s) are not just looking for the good book these days, but for the ‘marketing hook’ in the writer that they can use to sell the book. It shouldn’t matter how many left arms the writer has, or what heroic they did back in battle of Waterloo before being rescued by aliens and transported hundreds of years into the future (although that probably would make quite a good story!).

It should be the quality of the book in question that is the deciding factor. So who can make that decision? Who is qualified to make that decison? As long as the decision is being made in an objective manner who cares whether it is an established publisher, or new one-man outfit making that decision. And who’s to say that the self-published author’s book is any worse than the one’s being published by the guys with a ‘track record’…?!!