Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mark Liam Piggott's Blog

States of Independence

“Independent” has always been a word with positive associations: independent bands & labels, newspapers, bookshops and nations. A state of independence implies the freedom to make one’s own choices, to do things your own way (and make your own mistakes) without undue pressure being exerted from above.

Art and commerce have always had an uneasy relationship. Too often it seems the safe option is chosen to placate the shareholders, keep the board onboard. Bizarrely, it seems the larger the organisation, the more financial muscle it flexes, the more afraid it becomes to break out in new directions, to take risks.

New voices deserve to be heard and will be heard, no matter what the views of all those glorified newsagents, coffee emporiums and chat-show hosts who seem to believe they know better than writers and publishers what can be written, what sells, what works. Let the reader be the judge of that.

It can be frustrating as an author when you see your novel, that object of beauty that took so much time, effort and emotion, not being treated with the respect it deserves. Sometimes it feels like the major houses and chains don’t care about anything other than making money, flogging recipes, throwing cash at celebs in the hope they get some of it back. Independents seem to try harder and they seem to care more because, for one thing, their livelihoods depend on it to a greater extent; they can’t recoup their losses by flogging sandwiches.

I am delighted to be associated with Exclusively Independent because the publishers, bookshops and writers involved seem to share a common belief: that safety first isn’t always the best option. The only thing that matters is good writing – and there’s a lot of it about, as this latest EI list shows. But don’t take my word for it: come and see...

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