Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Value Do Agents and Editors Add?

At his blog, Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito recommends this article by Stephen Page, president of the Publishers Association. Esposito then writes:

POD technology is generally a good thing that will make it easier for more people to get into publishing, but writers still need editors and publishers. The capability of anyone to publish a book without some kind of gatekeeper to discern quality and work with a writer is a bad thing.

And don't think that direct access to POD technology will make those gatekeepers go away. As publishers have spent less and less resources on proper editing and publicity, those jobs have been outsourced to agents and freelance publicists. Similarly, if POD technology really turns anyone into a potential publisher, new gatekeepers will eventually spring up. The choice is if you want something ad hoc and quasi-professional, like today's agent-editors, or if you want dedicated professionals getting the job done right.

To which I ask, why is is that with so many “dedicated, professional” gatekeepers, so many bad books get published? I responded a couple of times to Scott in the comments there. After he, having never given one specific example to support his conclusion that there are many editors, at least at small presses, sacrificing themselves to discover and nurture the literary masterpieces of our time, said I didn't know what I was talking about, I wisely decided to give it up.

I really am not in the mood right now to write another 1,000 word or longer meditation on this subject so that the five people a day who stumble over this blog glance at it just long enough to realize that I don't offer the kind of celebrity gossip better served up by Perez Hilton before moving on. If you want a fresh angle on this, go to Grumpy Old Bookman (on the Recommended sidebar on the left) and download his free ebooks about publishing and writing.


Barbara Ehrenreich’s advice to prospective authors of books

Don't write one.


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