Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Where’s The Gate? ~ More Thoughts On Publishing…

gatekeepers I published my book, Notes from An Alien.

I published it

Even though FastPencil was listed as the publisher, they are far from a traditional publisher. For instance, they don’t have the Rights to my book; I do.

I’ve written a number of posts comparing Self-Publishing with Traditional Publishing. You can type “traditional” into the search box up there in the right corner or just click this link to see them. The most direct comparison I make is in the post, Traditional VS Self Publishing ~ Some Thoughts…

I keep track of what Joel Friedlander says on his blog, The Book Designer. Recently he brought attention to a new label in the publishing world in his post There Are No Gatekeepers, There Are No Gates.

That new tag is “Nongatekept authors“.

Of course, the gatekeepers of traditional publishing are the agents and editors and publisher’s marketing staff.

You can find plenty of articles claiming these gatekeepers are there to assure the reader they’re getting a book that’s worth their money–well-written, well-edited, possibly even of lasting literary value

One question that seems to be ignored quite often is: Can’t a self-published author provide all those things to their readers?

Our society is dripping with fears–economic, political, social, and literary. Some people (especially in the mainstream houses) are afraid of authors who decide to do, on their own, what the traditional publisher has so often done.

And, since fear often breeds lies, many folk are now claiming that the ease of publishing will rob the reader of literary quality.

I’ll let Mr. Friedlander speak to that fear:

“The myth of the noble gatekeepers is exactly that, of course. There never were bastions of cultural authority in this country, empowered to pass judgment on their fellow authors. But if you face year after year of rejection, it can be seductive to think there are.

“The problem is that this worldview completely dismisses the fact that publishing is a business, and publishers businesspeople. Books that find a home with profit-oriented publishers can be defined this way: books that might sell enough to make the publisher a profit.

“That’s the reality of gatekeeping, no matter how romantic it may sound. Publishers who make no profit are no longer in business. The business of business is profit, pure and simple.”

I heartily recommend reading his whole post…

What are your feelings and thoughts on being Nongatekept?

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14 responses to “Where’s The Gate? ~ More Thoughts On Publishing…

  1. Karla Telega May 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I love the concept that readers are the new gatekeepers. While self-publishing gives you the freedom to write work that is not generally accepted by traditional publishers, the reader is an important consideration if your goal is to sell in volume and turn a profit on your book.


    • Alexander M Zoltai May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      Yes, the reader is critical for a self-publisher. We must “find” them. We must build a “platform” for them. We must help them spread the “word”.

      I think, all wrapped up in one maxim: the self-publisher must be a Relationship-centric promoter…


  2. Simone Benedict May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I like the idea of writers being nongatekept. I also like what Mr. Friedlander has to say.

    An interesting aspect of watching writers building their brands, platforms, etc. is which ones are pushing their personalities versus their work. As a reader, whether I “like” the writer (personality-wise) has no bearing at all on whether I “like” his or her work. I wonder if other readers feel the same?

    Another thought I have is that perhaps being nongatekept causes a change in priorities for some writers? For example, when I submit to traditional publishers I already know what I have to do to please them and I don’t think so much of potential readers.

    As your post points out, if I were to pursue the self-publishing route, the reader becomes my priority. Then, somehow I have to align my own priorities with the reader. Is my goal to make a profit or is it to provide a quality work? My initial thought is the priority or priorities of the writer become more apparent with non-traditional publishing.


    • Alexander M Zoltai May 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      Simone, you say: “somehow I have to align my own priorities with the reader. Is my goal to make a profit or is it to provide a quality work?”

      I would say that the writer needs to keep their own priorities and work hard to find readers that appreciate those priorities…

      Also, I feel quality work comes first and, if enough readers are found, profits follow…

      Though, I have nothing against writers who purposely target a certain population of readers and align their work with those readers’ sympathies. As long as the work has some positive social value :-)


  3. tsonoda148 May 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I like the idea of the readers being the gatekeepers. I think self-publishing is opening up doors for some amazing writers that seemed eternally closed before.

    Alexander, are you on Twitter. I am tweeting your posts, but don’t have a twitter Id with which to associate them. Will still tweet your posts, either way though! My ID is @tsonoda


  4. cmmarcum May 25, 2011 at 12:08 am

    In a way, your post and Cantana’s post answer each other today. On the one hand, as writers we don’t want anything to stand in our way, especially not nearsighted businessmen who guard the gateway to publication. On the other hand, as readers we want someone to rake out the trash and guide us around the slush pile. As writers we want to offer comfort and encouragement to kindred spirits. As readers with very little time and even less money, we find weak writing and cliché stories intolerable.

    I, too, like the idea of readers becoming the gatekeepers, but even they must find some way to navigate to what they want to read. If they are anything like me, they grow weary looking. I think this, more than anything else, is what keeps readers going back to their favorite, tried and true, authors.


    • Alexander M Zoltai May 25, 2011 at 4:13 am

      Yes, C. M., I noticed the synchrony between Catana’s and my posts :-)

      I think your last point, about readers, gives independent authors the responsibility to build their reader platforms well before publishing and makes the creation of better search and review mechanisms a necessity


  5. Pingback: Considering The Writer/Reader Relationship… « Notes from An Alien

  6. Johanna M. Cook August 19, 2011 at 3:18 am

    As an aspiring cookbook author, this has given me tremendous insight. My “angle” and passion is to provide busy moms, like myself, with “Great Everyday Meals” using simple ingredients and basic cooking techniques. This is what I know, what I love, and what I am passionate about. I know that it would be terribly difficult for me to gain traditional publishers’ attention.

    My question is, besides blogging and other social media outlets, how else can a self publisher (who has a small budget) gain and attract would be readers and increase the platform? I love to write, but let’s face it, I also want to make money with selling my book. Advise?


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 19, 2011 at 3:32 am

      I recommend Google Plus over Facebook and Twitter.

      Also, with a blog, you could build readership and potential readers of your book by periodically offering free recipes–along with a steady stream of other cooking tips and tricks and, possibly, other busy-mom-advice :-)

      Nothing in book promotion is fast–take the time to build a “Persona” around your blog that attracts the kind of reader you want for your book.

      And, don’t sell the book as much as you sell yourself–people love people!!


  7. Pingback: Is Something “Good” Just Because It Has A “Tradition” Behind It? « Notes from An Alien

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