A guy named Eric Felten wrote a piece in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal blasting the world of self-publishing. Here’s an excerpt from it:
It isn’t just the elusive prospect of riches that excites the untold thousands of hopefuls crowding into the new self-publishing space. They are buoyed by escaping the grim frustrations of trying to get published the old-fashioned way. No more form-letter rejections from know-nothing agents and can’t-be-bothered editors.
It’s only natural for those locked out to despise the gatekeepers, but what about those of us in the reading public? Shouldn’t we be grateful that it’s someone else’s job to weed out the inane, the insipid, the incompetent? Not that they always do such a great job of it, given some of the books that do get published by actual publishers. But at least they provide some buffer between us and the many aspiring authors who are like the wannabe pop stars in the opening weeks of each “American Idol” season: How many instant novelists are as deluded as the singers who make with the strangled-cat noises believing they have Arethaen pipes?
Pretty elitist, isn’t it? In fact, it’s as New York elitist as you can get, in my opinion. Insulting, rude, disrespectful, unmannered…I could go on and on.
Notice how he admits that the “gatekeepers” aren’t doing their job. Well, I could’ve told you that. The fact is–and Mr Felten doesn’t seem to realize this–that readers stroll into bookstores every day and weed out “the inane, the insipid, and the incompetent” all by themselves in 15 minutes of browsing. Everyone who’s ever been inside a Barnes & Noble knows that of their tens of thousands of titles, there is no shortage of crap. It’s usually not too difficult to spot the lemons after reading the back cover or maybe a paragraph or two inside.
Well, don’t you know that those very same readers can perform that very same vetting process as they browse the shelves of Amazon? Most books offer sample pages and they all have descriptions and covers which serve as very efficient signposts.
Also worthy of note is Mr Felten’s smarmy implication that all self-published authors are nothing more than delusional, untalented slugs who are utterly incapable of penetrating the golden gates of New York publishing. The reference to a buffer between US and “them” is very telling. Oh so very New York.
Someone should tell Mr Felten that the “gatekeepers” long ago gave up the pretense of admitting only the work of the highest literary content, and in the process, sheltering the delicate eyes of the reader from offensive crap. Nowadays, they claim their principal function is to produce books which are professionally formatted and edited, and with killer covers. But of course, even that’s BS. Their real function has always been to produce books which will make money.
And for that matter, they don’t even do that too well.
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