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Old 12-13-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
writerinthenorth
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All shall be published

In the latest issue of The Author (official magazine of The Society of Authors) I have an op-ed piece about digital publishing and its possible consequences for the professional writer. In the magazine my contribution has the title 'Indiscriminate tide'. I have reproduced the article here under its original title 'All shall be published'. Comments welcome.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:58 PM   #2
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Interesting piece, but it ignores what has already happened in the world of music. There are parallels and lessons to be learned.

Music used to be the same - the only music you could buy was released by proper labels, both mainstream and independent. Myspace changed that, and these days the internet is awash with low-quality mp3s of one-man-and-his-acoustic-guitar and check-dis-sik-beetz-man outfits. Zero quality control, 100% access.

But the dust has settled, and very little has changed. That absolute crap hasn't taken over the world, because it's crap. Being signed and published was never any indication of quality before, and it isn't now, but turds still sink to the bottom. All that has really changed is the availability of turds.

Readers haven't changed. And they still want good books. The difference in the landscape isn't the increased availability of turds, it's the difference between engaging with readers through a different medium: pre-internet and post-internet.

Cheers!
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:02 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for sharing this.

I think the way you pinpointed the dilemma between the mainstream industry's ever tightening wagons and the self/digital-publishing industry's open door policy - the "noise-to-signal ratio" distortion, really hits the nail on the head.

I think the dissemination of standards you describe is very much in evidence across all artistic fields these days, and I have often found it overwhelming and disheartening. Funny enough, rather than wondering whether the democratization would push us "back into a pre-democratic age of inequality with the doors firmly shut on the aspiring professional," in my weaker moments I tend to fear everything, good and bad, will ultimately vanish into the current distortion.

On the other hand, I am, perhaps ridiculously, holding out hope that despite the particulars of this specific shift, such things will prove cyclical, not unlike humanity's movements toward and away from democracy in general.

Thanks again for posting.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:24 PM   #4
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Stuck behind a firewall atm so I can't read the article on your blog, but I think I remember reading it in The Author. I'll have to give it another read when I get home.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onesecondglance View Post

But the dust has settled, and very little has changed. That absolute crap hasn't taken over the world, because it's crap. Being signed and published was never any indication of quality before, and it isn't now, but turds still sink to the bottom. All that has really changed is the availability of turds.
I love your memorably graphic metaphor of the turds. I guess part of my argument is precisely about the availability of the turds - the would-be reader, having more shit to swim through, finds progress more difficult, especially with all this stuff sticking to the goggles on its way down. And perhaps the smell serves to mask the sweeter perfumes that we might otherwise be able to catch on the breeze.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by writerinthenorth View Post
I love your memorably graphic metaphor of the turds. I guess part of my argument is precisely about the availability of the turds - the would-be reader, having more shit to swim through, finds progress more difficult, especially with all this stuff sticking to the goggles on its way down. And perhaps the smell serves to mask the sweeter perfumes that we might otherwise be able to catch on the breeze.
I understand your concern, but as I noted, this hasn't happened with music. People still find out about new artists they like in much the same ways - through word of mouth and reading reviews - but you can also, if you're brave, go for a swim around Soundcloud etc.

The average Joe Bloggs who wants to hear a record doesn't do that - they go for what's been marketed to them, same as it ever was. The marketing strategies and methods need to change to reflect the market, but that's a given. This is all about the market changing, not about the content of the market. It's still beholden to Sturgeon's Law, it's just a bigger playing field now.
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