‘Jordan’s fourth biography, that’s vanity. Only writers are subjected to this kind of inquisition about how their work reaches the viewer,’ quipped a panelist at a
recent Birkbeck University event on self-publishing. Someone had mentioned the pejorative, ‘vanity press’ and the room
of writers stirred. All were seated in neat rows in a wood paneled lecture hall off Russell Square. Appropriate given that Virginia Woolf, who once lived two blocks away, self-published.
Previously, this was known as private publishing. According to Alison Baverstock, another panelist and authority on self-publishing, the Bronte
sisters, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, James Joyce, all covered the initial cost of bringing their work to market, at one point in their careers.