Wednesday, July 07, 2010

When anyone can be a published author. . .

How do you find something good to read in a brave new self-published world?

by Laura Miller

[entire article can be read here]

Readers themselves rarely complain that there isn't enough of a selection on Amazon or in their local superstore; they're more likely to ask for help in narrowing down their choices. So for anyone who has, however briefly, played that reviled gatekeeper role, a darker question arises: What happens once the self-publishing revolution really gets going, when all of those previously rejected manuscripts hit the marketplace, en masse, in print and e-book form, swelling the ranks of 99-cent Kindle and iBook offerings by the millions? Is the public prepared to meet the slush pile?

You've either experienced slush or you haven't, and the difference is not trivial. People who have never had the job of reading through the heaps of unsolicited manuscripts sent to anyone even remotely connected with publishing typically have no inkling of two awful facts: 1) just how much slush is out there, and 2) how really, really, really, really terrible the vast majority of it is. Civilians who kvetch about the bad writing of Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer or any other hugely popular but critically disdained novelist can talk as much trash as they want about the supposedly low standards of traditional publishing. They haven't seen the vast majority of what didn't get publishedand believe me, if you have, it's enough to make your blood run cold, thinking about that stuff being introduced into the general population. . . .

If anyone can "publish" by forking over a few bucks to produce a paperback or e-book, then doing so won't be any more special than, say, printing out the manuscript on your Deskjet and running off a few copies at Kinko's. Readers will be saved from wading through slush by amateur authoritiesbloggers and other pundits specializing in particular subjects or genreswho will point their followers to the best books. "People will find new ways to decide which books merit their attention."

1 comment:

DW@CWBA said...

I've never really considered the implications of this. If nothing else, it is already increasing the tedium of online searches. Cheap (in quality, not at all cheap in price) POD paperback reprints and slapped together eBooks are beginning to clog up the Amazon search results.