Anyone and everyone can write and produce a book now and apparently in the minds of some this means that the pillars of heaven are shaking and hell is coming to Frogtown. I beg to differ.
It is cock-explodingly awesome that anyone who loves words can slap together something in Word, pay a mate a fiver for a stick figure drawing and throw their work up on to the Internet for anyone to download, read and enjoy. This is a good thing. It is revolutionary. It is amazing. It means that the barrier to being able to get something published is not, necessarily, being moneyed but having a reasonable amount of savvy for pecking at a keyboard with your fingers.
Of course, a lot of this stuff that comes spewing forth from the minds of The Infinite Monkeys is shite. Sturgeon’s Law still applies (90% of anything is crap) but this has always been the case. For every Charles Dickens there’s a Thomas Prest, for every Charlotte Bronte a Joanna Trollope, for every Robert E Howard a Jim Theis.
The difference now is that we need to rely on our own discernment and that of our friends. The great guardians at the gates of publishing are in the process of being rendered irrelevant. Bookshops are vanishing at a rate of knots as online ordering continues its rampage.
If we’re going to find good books, good stories, then we need to find reliable people who know what they’re talking about. To become our own ‘gateway guardians’. Writers groups, review blogs, a stamp or mark of quality from writers who back each other up and share audiences. Consumers and producers need to look out for each other and need to make a conscious effort to rave about it when we find something cool, rather than just whining and complaining and spewing comedy invective when we find something we don’t like.
I’ve been writing RPG material since ’99, and full time since 2004/2005. It takes time to make a reputation (and it’s not always the one you want) but I have to believe that genuinely trying your best and turning out quality will eventually bring you an audience, appreciation and exposure. The writing business is just broader and more dilute.
Agree or disagree?
How can we turn people on to quality?
How can we create a marque that people can trust without the traditional model?