• Do you think self-publishing has been a good or a bad thing for the market and its readers?

With a couple of caveats, a good thing. More choice, by and large, is always good, and it’s nice that work that would maybe have been rejected by traditional publishing not because it’s bad but because it doesn’t fit an obvious commercial niche has an outlet. There’s some very good self-published work out there which would never have found an audience a few years ago, and having an audience allows its writers to write more. Which is undoubtedly cool.

The first caveat is that, in the early gold rush days at least, there was a mindset amongst some self-publishers that it wasn’t important to polish your work, or worry about improving your writing over time; you could get it finished and put it out there and ‘the market will decide’. That’s obviously a poor attitude to have to your own work in any case, but moreover it led to a glut of unremitting shite being dumped on would-be readers. That was definitely not a good thing for readers, was poor for the reputation of self-publishing as a whole, and I suspect (your mileage may vary here) the tarring-everyone-with-the-same-brush rep self-publishers gained for lack of editing, poor technical standard of writing etc. probably made the us vs. them, self vs. traditional pissing matches that developed worse. Quality self-published writers felt they needed to fight their corner because otherwise perfectly pleasant people made the assumption that their work must be lousy because otherwise why self-publish? That attitude has diminished, I think, now; I’ve certainly not seen anyone advise a fling-shit-at-the-wall-and-some-will-stick approach for a good while. Self-publishing has become much more professional and focused on quality. But we could maybe have avoided a lot of unnecessary arguments back then…

That and a whole lot more, largely about 3NJ, some about self-publishing, a small amount on Jesus’s sandwich provision, on the inestimable Ben Galley’s Shelf Help.