Wednesday, January 08, 2014

NYTimes book critic notes the loss of the midlist author, the disappearance of gatekeepers, the prominence of self-publishing

Colin Robinson discusses the disappearance of the trade-supported mid-list author in his op-ed (“The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader”) in the New York Times Sunday, p. 6 in the Review Section, link here. I called the writer a "critic" but I see that the Times notes he is a co-publisher of OR Books.  
   
He talks about the shrinking of traditional publishing, except at the top (with either best-selling novelists or ghost-written political celebrities), with the entire middle replaced by hundreds of thousands of self-published titles, facilitated by Amazon and e-book culture.
   
Robinson notes the loss of “gatekeepers”, which he says is not necessarily good.  It is the values of the gatekeepers that timed out.  Those could have changed. 

I do recall that the Authors Guild would not accept for members writers who could not get advances from traditional publishers.  It seems that the writer who does not live off his income from writing (as I don't) has become the enemy of the old publishing industry business model. Being "important" matters more than money -- particularly in alien civilizations. 

Donald Maass had noted the melting of the midlist in his 2001 book “Writing the Breakout Novel” and Scott Meredith had anticipated it in earlier versions of “Writing to Sell”.  

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