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(Slate)   Any idiot can write a book, says online magazine writer   (slate.com) divider line 14
    More: Ironic, George Packer, Amazon, Thomas Piketty, Jeff Bezos  
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4138 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Feb 2014 at 6:23 PM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-10 06:28:51 PM  
9 votes:
FTFA: " But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

The gatekeepers(publishers) have been the driving force behind commercializing ideas and wringing any life or creativity or originality out of a work, pretending that traditional publishers are some kind of noble defenders of true literature and art is insultingly dishonest.

It's too bad that Amazon doesn't give people a way to tell if the content of a book is any good, some sort of rating or public review process maybe?
2014-02-10 11:18:20 PM  
2 votes:
That's the whole idea behind reviews. Or has the author never checked out a new restaurant on yelp because of its score?

I wrote five books and put them on Amazon. They may not be Shakespeare, but I certainly don't think they're trash.  The whole problem with gatekeepers is that they believe themselves infallible. Unfortunately for them, Amazon is teaching them that they are falling behind. \

But, why bother adopting a new business model? It's so much easier to decry Amazon and say it's the death of literature as we know it. Congrats article writer for writing the same thing every pretentious know-it-all has written every year since the Gutenberg press
2014-02-10 09:36:30 PM  
2 votes:
The thing is, traditional publishers stopped being worthy gatekeepers. They don't give a rat's ass about the quality of the writing, only that it will sell. As long as its readable, any manuscript will be bought as long as it is similar enough to the last best seller. And on the other hand, they regularly turn away new, unique, creative works precisely because it is NOT at all like the last best seller.
So what's an author with fresh ideas and the ability to tell them well to do? Two options: self-publish on Amazon or seek out a small press publisher. Either way, there's no advance, no guarantee of making any money at all, and the perception that it's not a "real" book.

/Small press author.
//Still getting real checks for a 5 year old not real book.
2014-02-11 01:58:40 AM  
1 votes:

Gyrfalcon: The next question all authors need to ask: Do they want to be rich or remembered?


With Amazon, there's another calculation to make WRT to your point.
Real Life Example. Read what I posted above. We've profited from Amazon.
Author Friend of spouse was multi published, but stuck in mid-list (these are all pulp writers I'm speaking of here, nobody has delusions of anything past that)
and her next book had interest from multiple publishers (hooray for her! bidding wars are fun and profitable)
Alas, the bidding war in this case was only a moderate one.
One of the publishers was Amazon.  Spouse and I told Author Friend to ignore Big Five publishing houses' offers, go with Amazon.
Problem: Amazon's publishing means no other sales besides Amazon. No Barnes&Noble, etc.
And that means, no matter how big your sales are at Amazon, you will NOT get on New York Times Bestseller List. Ditto for USAToday's List
Author Friend understood this, chose to reject Amazon and go with Big Five publishing house with a higher advance, promise of some promo, and hope for NYT Bestseller status.
With Amazon and an ad on the front of Kindles everywhere, the lower proposed Amazon advance would have likely paid out in less than five days, and equating the publishing house's higher advance just a few days after that.
It's the potential glory of the New York Times Bestseller List that is still the lure for some, and definitely our Author Friend.
In our case, we know the raw sales numbers, and have guessed how high up on the NYT List spouse's book would have gone.
It doesn't matter, because we chose the money.
2014-02-10 10:49:39 PM  
1 votes:

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.


I'm writing a book about how I suck at writing books.
2014-02-10 10:19:43 PM  
1 votes:
If I listened to everybody's opinion on what to like and what not to like I would have Chariots of Fire and The English Patient in my DVD collection. Fark Siskel & Ebert for luring me into those hell canyons and wasting money and time on such shiat. I'd rather watch Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill just for the laughs.
2014-02-10 08:37:57 PM  
1 votes:
This is not new news. It's always been true.

Any idiot can write a book, and any solvent idiot can get one published.

But nobody can make other idiots READ their book, and that's where the money is.
2014-02-10 07:40:32 PM  
1 votes:

Boojum2k: I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery, which apparently Matthew Yglesias enjoys. More power to him.



Not all of it. I just finished Cold Mountain- not precisely new any more, but a pretty modern book that holds up to the same standards as the classics, and will probably be considered one a few decades down the line.

The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

To me, that's a great argument for sticking to classics and waiting a few years on the modern stuff. You might miss a good discovery, but your odds of getting a stinker are far lower. Of course, every now and then you get something like Ulysses, which is considered a classic despite being a steaming pile of self indulgent crap.
2014-02-10 07:16:43 PM  
1 votes:
I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery, which apparently Matthew Yglesias enjoys. More power to him.

I like reading for entertainment now, and there's some remarkably good stuff being epub'd now that would never have put out in paper before.

Of course, I read too damn fast, cocaine would be a cheaper habit.
2014-02-10 07:13:48 PM  
1 votes:

Kriggerel: To play Devil's Advocate...
Posting fiction and poetry on places like DeviantArt is guaranteed to take a great deal of the wind out of any wannabe writer's sails.

Especially when you find out that in the culture of instant-gratification, no one gives two runny sheeyits about writing, when there's visual art to look at, and music to listen to. Trying to be a writer can set you up for the saddest and loneliest experiences of your life. :P


If you're already sad and lonely, it's just like coming home.
2014-02-10 07:03:39 PM  
1 votes:
To play Devil's Advocate...
Posting fiction and poetry on places like DeviantArt is guaranteed to take a great deal of the wind out of any wannabe writer's sails.

Especially when you find out that in the culture of instant-gratification, no one gives two runny sheeyits about writing, when there's visual art to look at, and music to listen to. Trying to be a writer can set you up for the saddest and loneliest experiences of your life. :P
2014-02-10 06:50:29 PM  
1 votes:

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.


As someone who once had the glamorous "job" of  shifting through story submissions for fanfiction to EquestriaDaily for around a year, I can tell you that this is so true. People, if you can call them that, don't do even the most basic of proofing before hitting send. Having *any* kid of gatekeeper, even self-important grammar nazis and opinionated jackasses who passed HS English, really helps take a pool of "literature" from "absolute shiat" to "maybe I can get the smell out of I scrub hard enough."

When there is a very low barrier to entry, you get the full force of Sturgeon's law compounded. Take a look at fanfiction.net or, god forbid, FimFiction and you can easily see that 99.9% of what people think is good enough to share with others is absolutely not worth the bits it took to upload. And it's not unique to fanfiction. You just almost never see original stuff that never makes the cut at the publisher.

As someone who's managed to sell  hardback prints (and make enough to have to fill out a schedule C this year) of his poor excuse for a story, I'm getting a kick out this.
2014-02-10 06:34:25 PM  
1 votes:
Failing to see your point, subby. The article is talking about how we should not accept the decline of quality in our books, not sure why that's a problem.
2014-02-10 06:31:05 PM  
1 votes:
Amazon's self-publishing will do to books what the easy availability of news and political blogs will do to journalism.

/ wait a minute...
 
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