Self publishing and Insults

Every now and again there’s an article or something published that just screams for a reply.  Here’s one that argues self publishing is an insult to literature

Gatekeepers have existed in many industries and usually gatekeepers add one of two values: (1) marketing (2) access to otherwise expensive infrastructure (production and/or distribution). The e-publisihing trend affects (2). To compare: Recording companies were gatekeepers, especially in the age of LPs and CDs.  Physical shops were gatekeepers for clothing and fashion. Books are following that trend. Essentially Amazon (and Co.) reduce production and distribution costs to near zero.

This leaves (1) and it seems traditional publishers are their own worst enemy here. I hear so many accounts of books being published but not being marketed.

If production and distribution are free (that value has gone) and marketing is not provided  (that value never arrives) then what is the value that traditional publishing brings.

Quality? Really? I’ve read some traditionally published books that have very poor plots and flat characters. Spelling and grammar.  Potentially, yes. Traditional publishers may do a better job of enforcing spelling and grammar.  But if that’s the argument why self publishing is an insult to the written word, it’s a very weak one.

Besides, there’s another way to judge works according to their quality, let the market decide.

Traditional publishing also has a lot to answer for. The limited space for published work versus the high volume of submissions has created a side industry exploiting their clients. It’s so bad that there is a mini industry just to expose these abuses.  For every site listed here (http://pred-ed.com) there is at least one (and probably many more) author who has been ripped off. That’s the sort of issues that a traditional publishing model creates.

Apart from the significantly higher commercial and legal risks you face when publishing traditionally (see you really going to sue yourself for missed earnings?) the main difference between the two is on where the slush pile resides. In the traditionally published world, it exists within the office of the publisher.  With self-publishing, it exists online. Amazon and other retailers provide a look inside, a ranking system and a robust and monitored review process to allow the slush pile to exist alongside the more successful works and some people who have seen it says something amazing work resides in the slush pile.

Ultimately the ease and cost of doing business in the world of written fiction has plummeted. The barriers to entry have significantly reduced. That’s something that almost every government aims for.

What I struggle with is why people are so dead against the democratization of the publishing world. It’s hardly as if the existing structure of traditional publishers have any robust regulation to protect those in the industry  (http://pred-ed.com).

Trump Wins the U.S. Presidency!

May as well hear it here first. I know there’s an advantage to being the first news outlet to report breaking news so I thought I’d get in real early. It’s not that I want him to win, or support him. I just think he will win. And the only reason is people are voting crazy. The 99% movement. Brexit. The rise of the right in Europe. Wherever there’s a protest vote, people seem to be taking it. I wonder what the voters regret for bringing in Trump will be called?

Is this going to be bad? Who knows. The choice is for Clinton who almost epitomizes the political system. The same system that people don’t trust. That they wanted Obama to change eight years ago. Or Trump, who will more than likely kick the shit out of the system or attempt to. Maybe it’s for the best. It would take a no holds barred, skin like an elephant character like Trump to affect the system. The risk is what he replaces it with.

Maybe, Trump can’t break the system but instead demonstrates beyond all doubt that it is broken and people wake up. If we are lucky. We’ll know if that happens when Democrats and Republicans start to agree on key issues. That’s the sign of a healthy democracy, when the opposition agrees on things that make sense. Watching the bickering over the past decade has been hugely disappointing. Once the U.S. represented democracy and the free world. I’m note sure now. I don’t know which country does. Where is democracy healthy these days?

Demagogues like Trump are the sign of an unhealthy democracy. One that wants to expel the sickness. Will Trump be as bad as people make out?

My pick is that we will get to find out. My other pick is that it’s not as bad as people fear. The systems is too resilient for that.

Writing Inspiration: A lot of alternative histories are based around ultra conservative governments. For once, we have one ahead of us. What does that do to the world?

The Changing Face of Power

America has a new image, a woman staring down almost impossibly armored riot police in Baton Rouge.

Powerful as this image is in the contemporary setting in which it was taken, what’s more revealing is what it reveals about the changes in our society over time. Let’s imagine this scene playing out at different times.

In the middle ages, protesting against authority would have been viewed as treason. Likely outcome: burned at the stake.

In 1800 in Baton Rouge, an act of defiance like this would have been dealt with as a slave discipline issue. Likely outcome: suspended upside down and whipped until unconscious.

In 1900 this would have been seen as an afront to authority and a black person interfering with white folks business (use of a public road). Likely outcome: brutally dragged off and locked away by a sham court process.

In 1960 this would have been seen as an act of civil disobedience. Likely outcome: arrested and violently dragged off. Probably charged and released unless they could pin something significant on her.

2016? Quietly arrested and a symbol of the protest movement.

Across all time periods if she was armed and prepared to fight? Likely outcome: killed on the spot by the authorities.

Guns don’t make you strong. In fact, the more civilized the society, the less relevant guns become for resolving conflicts. Now, they are a hindrance. Bring a gun, and you undermine your moral position.

Story Inspiration: Where could this end up? Owning a gun becomes proof of antisocial tendencies? Politicians being asked if they owned guns just as currently they get challenged on whether they ever smoked dope?

How are the Cops like an Abusive Spouse?

Wow, read this for some perspective on the current problems with the U.S. police. This author describes U.S. cops (who happened to be presenting to schoolchildren) as saying the same things that abusive spouses do. If we stop you and kill you, it’s your fault…

…go figure.

Writing Inspiration: If the police keep heading down this line,  what would our society look like? Any infraction could have unintended consequences. The Black Lives Matter want equality when being stopped by the police, one form of equality is that everyone gets treated the way they do when stopped!