|The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 1896|
© The British Library Board
National Trust. He and his wife Jane lived there between 1860 and 1865, and the house provided a communal atmosphere for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This was an entire art movement originally founded in order to operate against the mainstream grain, to pursue its own ideals in the face of accepted opinion, and to place a belief in art above that of commerce. True, many of the artists went on to become rich or famous after the work of the Brotherhood became popular, but they never lost sight of their purpose – to create art that didn't necessarily conform to what the Royal Academy said could be art. Indeed, isn't that what independent publishers should be trying to do? Shouldn't they be trying to step outside the boundaries delineated by the established authorities, and using this reclaimed space to promote art?
I'm not for a second suggesting that all independent or self published titles need to be high literature, but art can and does mean many different things. Indeed, a pride in aesthetics, and care taken in quality control, would go a long way towards ridding the Internet of poorly formatted and poorly written self-published books which do nothing to persuade people that a self-published work is as worthy as one put out by a traditional company.
|Fate, holding the Wheel of Fortune|
Of course, many of today's self or independently published writers clearly desire commercial success and rightly so, yet the Arts and Crafts ethic can still be applied to contemporary endeavours. Write a book that is so fresh and so original that it towers above the “book-by-numbers” often churned out by the big names. Go for the handmade aesthetic but do it for the sake of the art, not because you’re trying to save money. Love what you’re doing and take care to do it well – don’t just slap something together because the Internet says you can become a millionaire with 99c e-books. With its “one click to put online”, e-books are almost mass-produced in themselves, so make sure yours is a well-made, well-presented and most importantly well-written BOOK rather than a poor quality commercial PRODUCT.
There's no reason why something commercial can't be art as well.