Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The New Gatekeepers

Last week I talked about the disadvantages of using self-publishing to skip over the painful process of facing rejection from traditional publishers. But what if you’re not looking at self-publishing as an easy way out? What if you’re a traditionally-published author who now sees self-publishing as a valid business model, or you’re unpublished but have done your homework and hired professional editors? You can release your book, but it’s easy to get lost among all the other unprofessional self-published work. How do you prove to readers that they are getting a quality read, if you don’t have the stamp of approval from a traditional publisher?

Some authors are banding together into groups to approve each other’s work. Book View Café is a group of traditionally published authors who market self-published versions of previously published work and original work directly to readers. According to the website, “Membership in Book View Café is limited to authors who have had at least one novel published with a traditional, advance-and-royalty paying print publisher.”

I expect we’ll see more of this kind of consortium. However, the authors involved will have to keep standards high. It only takes one or two bad books for a customer to assume everything published by a group is equally bad. Being part of a group with a bad reputation is probably worse than not having a group behind you.

That puts authors in the awkward position of potentially having to tell friends and colleagues that their work isn’t ready yet. Even if the group limits members to authors who are previously published traditionally, that doesn’t guarantee that every new work by every member will be up to par. (My understanding is that at Book View Café every new work does have to go through a screening process by other members.)

It will be interesting to see what fills the “gatekeeper” void. Groups of authors banding together for marketing purposes? Freelance editors with reputations? Review websites? Will bloggers become even more powerful? Or will people depend primarily on Amazon reviews, which can be unreliable, filled with praise from the author’s family members who haven’t even read the book or criticisms from trolls with a personal grudge?

What do you see as the future of the gatekeeper?

(Speaking of reviews, I have some good ones on Amazon for Rattled and The Eyes of Pharaoh. These, of course, are nothing but the unvarnished truth.)


  1. I wonder if you have talked to P.J. Hoover about publishing with the support of her literary agency, Andrea Brown. That strikes me as an interesting new model.

  2. If anyone wants to hear more about that model now, PJ was recently interviewed on the The Spectacle.

  3. You have to have an outside presence. I don't think anyone is capable of editing their own book.