Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Are Readers Going To Be The New Gatekeepers?

I’ve written about gatekeepers a number of times here

In the post Are Readers The Winners In The New Publishing Game? I said:

“Should more readers demand that authors forget about genre and write what the unique combination of theme, plot, and character demands of their creativity?”

“Is it conceivable that the reading public could select books based on plot characteristics or character interactions or theme arcs?”

“I’ve also written about how I’m a maverick author in the way I find my readers

“I do believe that, eventually, readers will have an exceedingly easy time in finding exactly what they desire; and, that they will become the primary ‘gatekeepers’ in the Book-World.”

In the post Where’s The Gate? ~ More Thoughts On Publishing I quoted Joel Friedlander saying:

“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.”

And, in the post Does Anyone Absolutely HAVE To Be Between The Author And Their Readers? I challenged writers with this:

“Steal the idea of a lone writer successfully providing books (or, short stories) to a large audience of readers; show what they have to struggle through to achieve the necessary skills beyond producing a manuscript; show them up against those who would judge them harshly; go ahead, write a story that has two protagonists: The Writer and The Reader :-)

Well, I’ll now lead you to yet another perspective from Libby Fischer Hellmann.

She’s written an article entitled Do we still need Gatekeepers? Are the lunatics finally in control and running the asylum?

Here are a few excerpts to entice you to take that link and read the full article:

“I’m not going to belabor how the plummeting price of ebooks has devalued books in general – we know it has. I’m also not going to estimate how many self-published books are never read. We know the number is high. Bottom line: we have millions of books available at bargain basement prices that are never read. Being discovered is more a dream than a reality.”

“Some say readers are already providing the gate-keeping function, democratizing the process and putting it in the hands of the ‘people’. But the sheer numbers of books being released make it impossible for anyone to thoroughly vet what’s out there.”

She also includes other people and methods that are attempting to fulfill the gatekeeping function, then says:

“…there are millions of readers who don’t recognize a well-structured, beautifully written book. They may have a feeling that something isn’t quite right, or that the book isn’t moving along as nicely as others, but if you’re not a prolific reader or writer yourself, how do you know if a book sucks?”

Then, she says something I wish I’d said:

“Of course, I’m just one reader. And one writer. And I’m aware that my taste may be very different than others.’ In fact, when you get right down to it, who am I to judge if a book is worthwhile? And if I’m loath to make myself a gate-keeper, who else should sift through the crap?”


What do you think?

How do you feel about all this?

How do you keep your reading gate swinging?
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6 responses to “Are Readers Going To Be The New Gatekeepers?

  1. Tomas Karkalas July 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    The term a gate-keeper sounds nicely, gives an authority: creates the illusion of being SOMEBODY who matters- somebody who decides something, yet such visualization twists the reality. I see the reading as going outside. You never know what you will meet under the corner and that creates a mystery- the wondrous taste of the choices you will make on the next page.
    I never do a search on plot characteristics or character interactions or …though that may look wise but that would express some prejudices I try to leave behind prior opening the book for the reading could lead me into a mystery, could teach me – give something more than just the affirmation of my expectations.
    Am I the gate keeper? No, I am the reader in an awe.
    If time when the readers will edit the writing will come one day that would be the death of the fiction books.


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