Monday, January 2, 2017

Find Your Own Gatekeeper

Look at this thing from HuffPo:
It would be easy to go after the low-hanging fruit here.  This woman you've never heard of has written three memoirs.  Three.  Because her life is just that interesting.  She is a "journalist". Because writing a blog on HuffPo counts.  The obvious self-contradiction of a blogger sneering at self-publishing.
Instead of dwelling on these things, let's look at a far more mature and thorough takedown by Richard Alan Chandler.  He doesn't go for the easy insults to an obviously flawed piece, he cuts to the heart of the matter by focusing on how her wrong-headedness about gatekeepers amounts to her lament that things are better for readers today:
No, my point is that she is wrong about the lack of gatekeepers. There are actually more gatekeepers now than there are editors and publishers and agents in the entire publishing industry.
I’m talking about you, the reader – both individually and collectively. Individually, because you now have a vastly broader range of works to choose from. And collectively, through your actions on a site like Amazon. When you and all the other readers go to Amazon, you are informing each other about what is good or bad by what you buy, or not, as reflected by the Amazon ranking (conveniently divided by subgenre), and what else is good through the “Also Bought” mechanism. And individually, again, through your star ratings and reviews. Your actions are both informed by those who have gone before you, and they guide those who come after you.
To which I would add that the changing nature of gatekeepers puts the burden on the reader of choosing his own gatekeepers.  And that the process of finding, following, and supporting your chosen gatekeeper crew need not be an onerous one.  You already enjoy reading, and most of the gatekeepers out there are communication via the written word.  So if you dedicate just a few moments of your day's reading to the social media output of even just a handful of trusted individuals, you'll be able to find works that target your interests like a laser beam.

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