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Old 04-18-2017, 03:03 PM   #1
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The Wheat from the Chaff: Filling the role of The Gatekeeper

This subject has been discussed quite a bit, but most of the threads on it here are several years old, and I figure it's worth an update.

One of the ostensible value-adds that the traditional Big Publishing Houses offer consumers is acting as Gatekeepers, selecting properties with some level of merit or quality, and thereby preventing us from being buried in dreck.

For the sake of this thread, let's consider only basic editorial and grammatical gatekeeping.
That is, let's set aside for the moment the ideas of content censorship, or political biases, or "they turned down Hemingway 9 times..." and just talk about the basic function of sending rejection letters to people who can't construct a coherent sentence in the language they chose to write in.

Even in this limited context, the BPHs are imperfect, true, but compared to what's up for sale on a platform like KDP, they are the Gold Standard. Mistakes get through, but if a BPH expects to maintain a reputation and stay in business, they do at least tend to show that their staff has basic literacy skills.

So much of the stuff on KDP is illegible, incoherent garbage, which, if the ideas of the content it self are worth sharing at all, should have been ghost written by someone else. Someone who can write.

It seems to be a fact that reviews and ratings can't be trusted.
The platforms themselves cannot (and should not) try to exercise the Gate-keeping function on their own.

The only decent tools available to us would seem to be reading the free samples (which, on a bad day, can have you spending A LOT of time reading a lot of REALLY BAD samples, and still not finding anything decent...the volume of dreck is that great) or getting recommendations from specific people who's taste and judgment you trust.

Personally, I would like to see the population of the world develop some self-restraint and a less entitled attitude, and refrain from publishing stuff if they have absolutely no writing ability, but I'm not sure how to bring that about.
I mean, I can't sing, so I don't try to get people to spend their time listening to me sing*. I'd appreciate it if other people were similarly aware of their limitations.

Is that the way it's going to be from now to the foreseeable future? Have I missed anything?
Is this a good situation?


ApK

* (except at my guitar jam, where they force me into it....)

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Old 04-18-2017, 03:05 PM   #2
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Works for me. That's why I very, very rarely read self-published books.
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:31 PM   #3
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Personally, I would like to see the population of the world develop some self-restraint and a less entitled attitude, and refrain from publishing stuff if they have absolutely no writing ability, but I'm not sure how to bring that about.
I mean, I can't sing, so I don't try to get people to spend their time listening to me sing*. I'd appreciate it if other people were similarly aware of their limitations.
The problem is the singers who are tone deaf and don't know how bad they sound to people who aren't. I think the same can be said for many writers. They just don't see why others wouldn't like their writing.
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:42 PM   #4
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The problem is the singers who are tone deaf and don't know how bad they sound to people who aren't. I think the same can be said for many writers. They just don't see why others wouldn't like their writing.
Special Snowflake syndrome? No one can dare be told they are no good at anything for fear of offending them or damaging their self-esteem?
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:47 PM   #5
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Andy,
Are you talking about errors like the following:
Our fist cooking with Mic exercise is going to be what are called Pizza Crackers. Do not feel pressure to make it look great. Look does not matter, only tastes matters.

Then 28 locations later or about 4 pages we get this:
Brink water to a boil in the microwave.
4 sentences later:
You will need to interrupted the cooking every 3 minutes to stir the mac and cheese.

I haven't read any farther/further.

Notice there are no misspelled words so the "author" probably ran it through just spell check.

Oh and this one was a book that had a publisher name. But I figure it is rather like some other s-p's. The author is the publisher.
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:52 PM   #6
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The problem is the singers who are tone deaf and don't know how bad they sound to people who aren't. I think the same can be said for many writers. They just don't see why others wouldn't like their writing.
I was once offered a job as a lounge singer.
I haven't figured out if I am a fabulous singer or the two I was singing with made me sound good. My ears say it is the latter not the former.

Oh you mean the writers that say I don't notice errors when I am reading so my readers won't notice either.


Same author a week later: whining about getting their books returned.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:35 PM   #7
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Special Snowflake syndrome? No one can dare be told they are no good at anything for fear of offending them or damaging their self-esteem?
Conversely I wonder how many 'great' authors of the past were told that they had no skill for writing and still went on to have many books published later. I grant you that there are certain standards of punctuation, grammar, etc. that lead to making a good sentence and so on, but that isn't all that goes into the creation of a piece of writing any more than sharpening your chisel is the only thing to do with sculpting marble. There is also editoral bias involved when someone picks up an author's book. Whether they are published or not. And every successful writer if asked could tell you that they had written a lot of rejected dreck before they finally wrote something that was accepted by traditional publishers. Of course people don't want to wait x many months to find out if something will be accepted/rejected, nor do they like the publisher keeping the lions share of the profits when they did the hard work of creation. So people go e publishing now days.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:40 PM   #8
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Depends. I read self-published books pretty often and have found many enjoyable and reasonably well-edited works. OTOH, I have been bored to tears with quite a lot of books from the mainstream publishers. So I'm grateful self-publishing exists. Of course there are heaps of dreck, but I am content to do my own gatekeeping. Self-published books are generally cheaper too. I'm pretty grumpy when I'm forced to abandon a boring traditionally published book with the price tag of 10-15$. And it has happened a lot.

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Old 04-18-2017, 05:59 PM   #9
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Special Snowflake syndrome? No one can dare be told they are no good at anything for fear of offending them or damaging their self-esteem?
No, I agree that letting them know their writing sucks as soon as possible is a good thing. It's just that you can't rely on them being able to tell how good or bad it is themselves, so the self-policing you wanted won't work with them.
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:02 PM   #10
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......
Crich, you managed to not only go against my whole purpose, but you did it while EXPLICITLY bringing in every single point I asked not be brought in. Impressive!
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:38 PM   #11
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Depends. I read self-published books pretty often and have found many enjoyable and reasonably well-edited works. OTOH, I have been bored to tears with quite a lot of books from the mainstream publishers. So I'm grateful self-publishing exists. Of course there are heaps of dreck, but I am content to do my own gatekeeping. Self-published books are generally cheaper too. I'm pretty grumpy when I'm forced to abandon a boring traditionally published book with the price tag of 10-15$. And it has happened a lot.
I agree with this. I've read some pretty good stuff in the self-published areas, and boring dreck that's from a professional publishing house.

All in all, I'd much rather choose my own gatekeepers than have someone do that for me. Because no one out there is going to represent my personal likes and dislikes. They're going to go for the money, every time.

The best I can do is find reviewers who share my tastes, and let them do their reviews. That person will come closer to finding books that do it for me than a business that doesn't care about my business, because I'm not in a large enough group to interest them.

Otherwise, I just do what I always do. Check out stuff before I buy, or leave my own review when I give some new stuff a chance.
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:53 PM   #12
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On the really bad ones, I leave a review to save others a headache.
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:06 PM   #13
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Dusky, how do you find the reviewers you like?
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:15 PM   #14
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Dusky, how do you find the reviewers you like?
Go to the books I already know I like, on what ever site is doing reviews, and see who gave it the same thumbs up I did, for the same reason. Then see what else they've reviewed.

On Amazon, just click on the reviewer's name. That'll bring out what other items they've reviewed.

Same for books that have cliffhangers. Can't stand them. So I look at the 1 stars for cliffhanger warnings and see what other ones they've run into. Then I know What/Who to avoid.
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:54 PM   #15
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This is one of the old threads which the OP refers to:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=245971

The discussion is still relevant.

As to this thread. I am happy with no one performing the role of gatekeeper. This role was essentially to exclude books from publication. This role has gone, never to be resurrected. The problem now is choosing from a variety which may as well be infinite. I have found very few problems in excluding what I think is the real garbage.
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