Well, there's nothing like a success story for warming the cockles of the old heart, is there? Try this one.
A while back, retired Fleet Street photographer Ron Morgans decided to write a thriller. You and I know, of course, that Fleet Street columnists are well connected fellows, and ladies, celebrities in their own right, and so when they turn their hand to fiction they don't have any trouble in finding a big-name publisher. Photographers, on the other hand, are a different breed -- rather vulgar fellows, don't you know; tend to use the wrong knife and fork -- so Ron wasn't received by agents and publishers with quite the same warm enthusiasm as would greet, say, a 29-year-old, mini-skirted columnista from the Grauniad, or wherever.
So Ron published the book himself. Through Lulu.com.
Ron tells me that, after reading about Kill Chase here on the GOB, Clare Christian of publishers The Friday Project asked to see the book, and liked it. So too did her colleague Scott Pack (ex Waterstones).
The outcome is that The Friday Project will publish Kill Chase and Ron's second novel, simultaneously, in March 2008; sales and distribution will be through Pan Macmillan, which should help.
This is by no means the only example of a modern self-published book being picked up by a 'proper' publisher, but it isn't a common occurrence and constitutes a considerable achievement.