Cutting Out the Middle-Man Where Self-publishing Is Concerned


Q1.  Are you a writer, unpublished or self-published?

Q2.  Are you happy with what you are writing, in respect of content and output?

Q3.  Do you think you have about as much chance as the next man/woman of self-publishing your work?

Q4.  If you have already self-published a book (or books), do you think you have about as much chance as the next man/woman of being taken up by a commercial publisher?

Q5.  Is your particular medium fiction or non-fiction? The short story? Reportage? Poetry?

Q6.  Have you ever tried to write non-fiction?

Q7.  Have you ever tried to write poetry, say?

Q8.  Have you ever tried to write reportage?

Q9.  Do you think there has been quite enough fiction about “peasants and inarticulate people”?

Q10. Would you  say “failures are boring as central characters”?

Q11. Would you say “peasants and inarticulate people are not suited to the medium of the novel”?

Q12. Do you think we should “have no more novels about the primal physical violence of the dumb oxen”?

Q13. Do you strongly dislike John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, by way of example?

Q14. Do you think that Manchester artist LS Lowry is a “cloth-capped nincompoop”?

Now, Questions 9 to 14 were suggested verbatim in a piece in last Saturday’s London Thames, and are attributed to the poet W H Auden, running-boy of Christopher Isherwood of That Ilk, in a rediscovered diary from the late-1930s when Auden had fled to the USA upon World War II breaking out. Meanwhile, Question 13 refers to an opinion expressed by the art critic Brian Sewell. This came to my attention in Rory Shabeen’s column in the Daily Mess, dated 25 June 2013.

For my own part, I would venture to suggest in respect of Q 9 through 14 that –
If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, you are, like W H Auden and Brian Sewell before you, an inveterate and incorrigible snob, so I look forward with keen anticipation to seeing your work
a) in print,
b) Melvyn Bragg-ed,
c) winning the Man Booker prize,
d) at the top of the best seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic,
e) remaindered at the first possible opportunity and,
f) subsequently, forgotten.

– If, on the other hand, you answered in the negative to Q8 through 14, let me tell you I fully expect your work
a) to be steadfastly ignored by the coterie of inveterate clots and incorrigible clowns acting as literary critics and/or commercial publishers worldwide, and,
b) consequently, overlooked – hence, forgotten.

Such economy of effort! Talk about cutting out the middleman!

(24 July 2013)

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester, Manchester Kiss, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Four Years to Life, Boost Your Pocket Money & Pension – a Winner’s Guide to Buy-to-Let Property Investment. are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website,

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