Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Introducing ....

... The Gatekeepers: Literature's invisible arbiters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

1 comment:

  1. A good article.

    FYI: Literary agents are also now essentially serving as gatekeepers, since most publishers now only accept submissions that are agented. So that is another hurdle to publication. I've yet to think of a better system, but I suspect it can also narrow the choices available to the consumer.

    There is an interesting discussion based on surveys with agents at "A favorite phrase used by agents in turndown letters is, “I simply didn’t fall in love with the writing.".... Does that mean the writing was “poor”? Not at all. It simply means you didn’t connect with the story, for reasons you may not even be able to articulate. Every individual’s literary taste is different."

    I suspect this gatekeeper effect has a particular impact on the fiction side of the fence, as it is likely most agents are well grounded in and enjoy great literature on the human condition, but as a group their interests in general may be narrower than the population as a whole. (Try to picture a publishing list assembled by only surgeons, or trial lawyers, or organic farmers, etc.) The way around this is self-publishing and internet use, of course, but then access to mainstream outlets for reviews and discussion is severly limited. So, ultimately, a few hundred people at most (agents, publishing house readers and editors) decide what fiction will be discussed (i.e. promoted) in the mainstream media.