As usual, the response generated by this blog entry eventually became another “Support indie wuv 100%” or “Haters don’t wuv the snowflakes anymore!” issue among some quarters.
As a reader who has no intention of publishing anytime soon – in other words, someone whose only vested interest in the whole indie scene is getting some quality entertainment for the price I paid – I find Mr Wendig’s post (and the post that came before that – linked in the blog entry I referenced above) pretty refreshing. The indie scene – which composes 99.9% authors – can get monotonous and even depressing with its often insular focus on itself as all that is good and holy compared to traditional publishing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things wrong with traditional publishing, but there are also things about indie publishing that aren’t amazing. And it seems, to me, that many indie authors never bothered to ask readers before speaking for these readers. No, looking at your sales report isn’t the same as “I know what readers think”, and “my Facebook or Twitter followers love me” isn’t the same as “my work is an example of quality”.
One of the constant lines trotted out by indie communities is how great that agents and traditional publishers are now stripped of their gatekeeper roles, and now readers can read whatever they want with glee! They are their own gatekeepers!
Well, in a way, some readers already act as gatekeepers, if we define “gatekeeping” as “arbiters of quality”. They are called… wait a minute, oh yes, the MEAN GIRLS OF GOODREADS! Or is it Booklikes now? I can’t ever keep straight, as they all sneak out and sneak back in so ninja-like, but that’s another story altogether. Back to this story, these authors already have some readers playing gatekeepers, and even if these gatekeepers aren’t obstacles to publication like agents and old-school editors were said to be, these authors still pegged them as destructive forces of nature to one’s career. So, really now, do they want these readers as gatekeepers? I notice that many of the same people claiming this are also those that squealed indignantly at the so-called Mean Girls, so I wonder whether they are aware that they have exactly gotten what they claim to be asking for.
With indie, the means of publication has changed, it has been revolutionized, along with marketing strategies and other related post-publication activities. This does not change the need for an author to set her own standards for herself and to improve, to give her readers the best their money can be. Wallowing, even celebrating, mediocrity is actually an insult to readers. Same with boasting that you wrote and published a story in two weeks, or that the reader should “get” the story despite the slipshod writing because you’re really that amazing an author. If you really want to go that “I’m too good to be restricted by grammar and other dinosaur stuff” route, please pretend to be a literary writer, and spare me the pain, thanks.
Bottom line – I don’t consider myself anyone’s gatekeeper, and once I’ve paid money for a book, I’m not obliged to help the author improve in any way. Along the same line, I’m also not delusional enough to pretend that my reading taste represents the majority, so I’d laugh at your face if you even suggest that my buying preferences represent some kind of gatekeeping ability.
Frankly, “let readers be the gatekeepers” seems like a polite way of saying “I sell lots of books, so clearly, people wuv me and I am the new indie king so STFU haters, my Kindle sales records is my shield against the haters of Sodom so BLESS ME LORD HUGH JESUS HOWEY AND GIVE ME STRENGTH TO SMITE DOWN THE MALEFICARS!”
It seems like people are now adding sex scenes into classic novels to tantalize us readers. I don’t know how we get from 50 Shades bandwagon-hopping to this, but I guess everyone discovers once again that women like to read sexy stories so they should be given all the sexy prawny stories they want. Or something. So, what kind of sexed-up classic do you want to read?
With Ridley as the center of attention and Ann Somerville making an appearance, you KNOW this is too good to miss. Make popcorn. Lots of ‘em!
On a more serious note, that stupid “let’s out mean people” blog is exactly the kind of drama that gives blogging and Goodreads a bad name. Outing people – what gives them the idea that this is the right thing to do? Even if Ridley is the meanest person alive, she still has the right to say what she does as long as (a) it’s her personal online space or (b) the owner of the online space allows her to say what she wants.
The Web is an anarchic place with only rules imposed by the people who own that particular slice of Web. There is no rule saying that you have to be nice on the Web. So if your skin is too thin to take the heat, don’t pout – get out. Maybe check out real life once in a while.
Edited on add: On the other hand, I personally don’t understand the Wrath of the Angry Reader that causes her to organize online movements to spam blogs everywhere and try to drive an author out of business (this is why I’m personally disturbed by online vigilante action). Sometimes what happens between an author and her editor or publisher or the cat that she kicked should be handled by the author and the other relevant parties, which may not include the reader. It’s like people lobbying to drive Author X from ever writing again because Author X allegedly plagiarized Author Y – this is a matter, I feel, best left between the two authors and their lawyers, as well as their publishers. There should be boundaries between readers and the authors that should not be crossed. Crossing these boundaries because the reader in a fit of hubris believes that she is entitled to control the author’s fate can result in bad things, such as drama of this nature. Perhaps it’s time we folks step back and ascertain whether we are all going over the line.
I hope you are catching the feeds, or at least following them. It’s just one week in and things are insane in a good way. Britney is insane, that Hantz fatty is insane, and everyone is lying to everyone so it’s one amazing party going on.
And some of the screaming matches resulted in pure gems, such as “EAT YOUR FUCKING FRUIT LOOPS!” delivered in an angry non-ironic manner.
I mean, what’s so bad about this?