Monday, March 5, 2012

More thoughts on gatekeepers

I stumbled through a couple more free books on my Kindle. Wow. I get it now. I understand what the gatekeepers were/are doing. They were filtering and polishing to create the story with the broadest appeal. Because the broadest appeal will result in the greatest sales. And all those odd little stories with a limited audience are out there now.

So if you want a Steampunk Zombie Reluctant Messiah Romance, it's out there.

This makes me wonder what will happen to genres. I think they will shatter into a million subcategories and overlap and merge and re-shatter until anything goes. Or maybe we're already there.

Another thing that the gatekeepers (and I mean agents, editors and publishing houses) were doing was to give us the expectation of smooth prose. These books by new authors (and I include myself in there!) are often written with more passion than polish. Word choice and word usage, repeated phrases and awkward phrasing make the reading experience a bit choppy. I keep finding things that I would highlight in my critique group to be rewritten.

Sometimes I can't get past the words to get into the story. At that point I give up. And I wonder if the author would want the feedback from me.

When I was dabbling in script writing, I was on a peer review site. After reviewing a bunch of them, I realized there are certain kinds that I just don't get. I'd read through a script and be left baffled. But there are books and movies that don't appeal, and that's fine. Like my Uncle John used to say - that's what makes horse racing. So I stopped reviewing anything that didn't make sense to me. I didn't think it was fair.

I wonder how this will all shake out audience-wise. Now that we have a gazillion new authors in every shade of every genre there is, do we all get an audience of 16.32 people?


  1. Hi Alice,
    I saw your post on Goodreads and decided to check out your blog. I like your ideas.
    I think niches are fine, but I have to say that I find the kind of uneven prose that you're describing irritating to read. I typically won't finish a story or book that is poorly edited even if it is free. I think it's hard for indie writers to find good editors. When they're starting out they often don't realize the value of an editor, or if they do, they can't afford the cost.

  2. Hi Betsy,
    Welcome! I think it might be inexperience also. It's hard to find your own mistakes. I have a really good critique group. Without that kind of feedback, it's easy to miss common errors. And your mind tends to glide over awkward phrasing because you know what you're trying to say.