Ed here: My friend Dave Zeltserman sent me this link to Laura Miller's take on Salon about how "self-published books" are everywhere on the net these days. She also refers to the old-fashioned slush pile. I've read slush for two magazines and two book publishers and I agree with Laura's take. About 2% of slush has any chance of being published. A lot of it is flat out horrendous.
Who will be the gatekeepers in this self-indulgent new world? Are we throwing out all the rules just so people can proclaim themselves "authors?"
In case this sounds snarky let me say that among the biggest thrills of my life was being able to tell three people whose books I found in slush that we'd be buying their first novels. I found a short story and was so knocked out by it that we sent it to the late and great Roger Zelazny for an anthology we were doing. Roger liked it so much that he wanted the young writer's name so he could call him and tell him how much HE liked the story. Four months later Carol and I took the writer and his wife out to dinner where I informed him that Baen had bought his first novel. I'll always remember how happy they looked in those first moments. Editors WANT to find good material. They can't exist without it. But it's going to be a very different world now.
From Laura Miller:
"Digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that's threatening the traditional industry," a recent Wall Street Journal report proclaimed. "Self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment." To "circumvent" means, of course, to find a way around, and what's waiting behind all those naysaying editors and agents, the self-publishing authors tell themselves, are millions of potential readers, who'll simply love our books! The reign of the detested gatekeepers has ended!
"How readers feel about all this usually gets lost in the fanfare and the hand-wringing. People who claim that there are readers slavering to get their hands on previously rejected books always seem to have a previously rejected book to peddle; maybe they're correct in their assessment, but they're far from impartial. 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 published -- and believe me, if you have, it's enough to make your blood run cold, thinking about that stuff being introduced into the general population.
"Everybody acknowledges that there have to be a few gems out in the slush pile -- one manuscript in 10,000, say -- buried under all the dreck. The problem lies in finding it. A diamond encased in a mountain of solid granite may be truly valuable, but at a certain point the cost of extracting it exceeds the value of the jewel. With slush, the cost is not only financial (many publishers can no longer afford to assign junior editors to read unsolicited manuscripts) but also -- as is less often admitted -- emotional and even moral."
for the rest go here: