Thursday, July 7

Are Gatekeepers Necessary?

Occasionally I read a post by an author and they not only nail what I have been thinking and feeling about a subject but they express it more eloquently than I ever could. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has done just that with her article, "The Business Rusch: Slushpile Truths", a response to Eric Felten's article, "Cherish the Book Publishers—You'll Miss Them When They're Gone", that appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

She writes:

Let me tell you, Mr. Felten, as a person who read slush for a decade, discovered lots of new writers, and won both a World Fantasy award and a Hugo award for her editing work, the slush pile isn’t some growing, breathing, horrible thing to be avoided. It’s a tower of hope, of dreams, of writers who want to do something with their lives.

Yep, there’s bad stuff in it. But the bad stuff is less common than the dull stuff, the mediocre stuff, the unoriginal stuff. The bulk of the slush pile is boring, not terrible. You start reading one of those manuscripts, your eyes glaze, and you set it down, and move onto something else.

Sound familiar, readers? Of course it does. The slush experience mimicks your own reading experience with traditionally published books. Yep, you folks do it with books that have already been published. [Italics in original]

Go Kris! She nailed it. "The bulk of the slush pile is boring, not terrible."

I have heard folks say things like: Indie authors write crap, just pick up 10 indie published books, you're lucky if you find one you'd want to read. I don't disagree, but the same is true for traditionally published books. The books I'm not interested in reading are not terrible books, they just failed to grab my attention.

One last quote:

Why am I taking this guy on? Primarily because so many of you sent me this silly piece, which just goes to show how many of you read The Wall Street Journal as opposed to the more obscure bloggers on the NPR website. (They covered this issue last summer.) I think a bunch of you also sent it to me because you agree with him, because you’ve bought that piece of swampland in Florida with the sign that says “Professional Gatekeepers Necessary.”

That was my much needed laugh of the day. Thanks Kris. Looking forward to next Thursday.

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