Sunday, March 16, 2014

The would-be jurors

Recently a colleague from SFCanada posted a link to a review site which published an article, entitled Is genre fiction creating a market for lemons, about the rise of self-publishing and the proliferation of reader reviews.

Despite being intelligently written, I'm afraid it hit the Taz button for me. You know, the Taz -- Tasmanian Devil, the misunderstood growly beastie.

Why? Well, here's why:

I am heartily weary of this discussion, that somehow self-publishers, or small presses, or gods forbid the unenlightened, uneducated hordes might dare to think they, also, could create art, that somehow art is only art when adjudicated by a precious few who are somehow authorized to canonize a writer for their work. Only THEY can say, ‘This is worthy of publication.’

Oh horse-cookies.

People have been writing stories for millennia, and recording them either through their memories and retelling them as the shaman or bard or wise-person, or through pictographs, scratching on papyrus or parchment or vellum or paper, or now digitally. And people have been listening to stories for millennia. The stories which are remembered generations from now are the ones which resonate with some part of the human spirit. If not, the stories diminish; they die.

So many of these would-be gatekeepers, these chickens who wail, “The sky is falling. Art as we know is under siege!” forget that but 150 years ago people wrote their stories and yes, grab the smelling-salts, they self-published! They created their own kickstarter campaigns, only then contributors were called patrons, and every patron received a copy of said book. And so many of those published works are forgotten but perhaps by a precious few. And that’s okay. Really, it is.

For the love of sanity, I do wish these toffs would get over themselves. The public will read what they will read. And if you don’t like the marketplace, well, take your stall somewhere else.

Just one last comment regarding reader reviews: Whether they’re fake or not makes little difference, because since when did we allow someone else to decide what we should and should not read? Why not just read or watch something because you think the subject matter might be of interest? And then, gasp, make up your own mind whether you wasted your time or not.

And you know what, even if you didn’t like said piece of art, it wasn’t a waste of time finding that out! Why? Because YOU’VE LEARNED SOMETHING! Even the negative can teach us something.


Rant off. Apologies in advance for the myriad people I will have pissed off. Going back to my Taz-Devil ways in the loft.

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