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Old 01-10-2015, 11:54 AM   #1
PennLady
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Article on the "gatekeepers"

Found this at Slate, an article (essay, maybe) by Daniel Menaker, a writer and editor. I think I would agree he makes some points, but I don't think I agree with him entirely.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/b...he_future.html
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:11 PM   #2
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Good article! I don't know much about the publishing industry, beyond the fact that it offers me tasty temptations on a daily basis. I've always suspected that it had its tawdry underbelly like any other process that brings creativity and money together. Still, it's rather icky to have it all exposed like that.

I loved the footnote, and believe it's absolutely true. Readers will not be denied, we must have our words. In the long run the form of conveyance really doesn't matter. Writers need to write and readers need to read; the supply and demand is a beautiful thing.
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:57 PM   #3
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This may have some validity in mainstream publishing, but the bottom line is that any publisher is going to be fixated on keeping itself in business, so the "art" of the book isn't going to be the only issue any of them focus most of their attention on as long as they want to stay in business. My impression of mainstream from the mid-level author and copy editing perspective is that most of the effort goes to established author names, followed by trying to ride whatever wave has been established while the wave is still high enough to support other, similar books--and that these are what keep the business open. But nearly all publishers keep some percentage, no matter how small, of their effort put toward finding new authors and potential new waves in book themes. (Otherwise we wouldn't have new authors and new waves emerging--there is no dirth of offerings of established authors and old waves in theme wanting to be published.)

And I think that's a reasonable approach to take--especially in the current world of expanded market through e-booking. A reader/buyer who truly wants new and different is now served--not so much in the past when print mainstream publishers controlled what was available.

The percentage of concentration on finding and promoting a book for its own value, regardless of the marketplace demands, is generally higher in the academic presses than the trade mainstream. But even there, books that come with grants and serve institutional needs and come with institutional financial support are going to be higher-priority processed to whatever extent is needed to keep the press' doors open and staff paid.

Publishing is a business. And business has basic demands no matter what the product is.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:32 PM   #4
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Its a lotta words for the only point its makes: Write books readers buy.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAMESBJOHNSON View Post
Its a lotta words for the only point its makes: Write books readers buy.
Nope, not even close. It's more about getting ones foot in the door if you're not a name author already.

You have to find what the readers want to buy but also what the publishers want to risk their money on.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:19 PM   #6
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Yep, the title gives it away ("The Gatekeepers"). It's on the role of the publishers as the deciders beyond whatever the writer or the reader/buyer wants. And, in this article, it's suggesting that the publishers are more business than artist in performing their role.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:28 PM   #7
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Nope, not even close. It's more about getting ones foot in the door if you're not a name author already.

You have to find what the readers want to buy but also what the publishers want to risk their money on.
You made the same point I did but took more words to say it.
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:27 PM   #8
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You made the same point I did but took more words to say it.
Like I said, not even close.
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:37 PM   #9
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It reminds me of a story told about a group of new management recruits to the Ford Dagenham UK plant.

They were asked what they thought the purpose of the Dagenham plant was.

Most answered some variation of "To make cars".

Only one got it right: "To make money".

That was a pointed statement at the time. British Leyland were making Minis and selling them by the tens of thousands - but they weren't making enough profit on the sale of those Minis.

Ford's massive mistake with the Edsel was to make a car, a competent car by the standards of its time, that they couldn't sell in sufficient quantity to make a reasonable profit.

That is the purpose of any capitalist business.
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:08 PM   #10
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Ford's massive mistake with the Edsel was to make a car, a competent car by the standards of its time, that they couldn't sell in sufficient quantity to make a reasonable profit.
Which may have been because it had the most ugly front grill of all time--looked like it had just sucked a sour lemon--or was "The Scream" rendered in chrome. (But wait, there's the Studebaker.)
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:21 AM   #11
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Like I said, not even close.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. - Hamlet (1.5.167-8
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:50 AM   #12
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Well, that was your typical inane "I got nothing" response, James.

Who is it you think you're fooling (other than, maybe, yourself)?
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
Yep, the title gives it away ("The Gatekeepers"). It's on the role of the publishers as the deciders beyond whatever the writer or the reader/buyer wants. And, in this article, it's suggesting that the publishers are more business than artist in performing their role.
Yes. I've been having a similar discussion with my beta reader about all this, although we've been discussing music, but there are parallel issues. Of course "the gatekeepers" in music, art, publishing, etc., are going to defend their roles. Whether you agree with the need for those roles in the first place is part of the issue.

But all of these things are businesses and they will respond to demand as best they can. (And part of my beta reader's objection here is that public demand is often for what is mediocre at best.) It must be stunning to have such development in recent years that allows people to bypass the traditional distribution network that publishers, erc., have developed.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:42 AM   #14
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Well, that was your typical inane "I got nothing" response, James.

Who is it you think you're fooling (other than, maybe, yourself)?
I don't post as a girl.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:46 AM   #15
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Yes. I've been having a similar discussion with my beta reader about all this, although we've been discussing music, but there are parallel issues. Of course "the gatekeepers" in music, art, publishing, etc., are going to defend their roles. Whether you agree with the need for those roles in the first place is part of the issue.

But all of these things are businesses and they will respond to demand as best they can. (And part of my beta reader's objection here is that public demand is often for what is mediocre at best.) It must be stunning to have such development in recent years that allows people to bypass the traditional distribution network that publishers, erc., have developed.
Musicians/artists have a chance through a you tube video and hoping it goes viral. The gatekeepers are cut off at the knees if something like that takes off, they are at that point compelled to do something with it and quickly before another gatekeeper does.

Art to a lesser degree as well. A good video of someone painting, showing their paintings, their sculptures...it gets seen....

A you tube video by a guy doing tricks kicking a football and another throwing it led to those guys getting NFL tryouts.

Can't do that with writing. A video of someone talking about their book does not have a lot of punch.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:52 AM   #16
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Whenever I hire a new manager where I work, I outline this basic truism to them:

Their #1 job is to MAXIMIZE PROFITS. It doesn't matter where you work or what your position happens to be, that's everyone's #1 job. If you work a non-profit, then it's about maximizing donations. If you work for a widget manufacturer, it means sell more widgets.

There are only 2 ways to maximize profits - reduce costs or increase sales. Ebooks have reduced costs without necessarily increasing sales due to the fracturing of the marketplace.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:17 AM   #17
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There are only 2 ways to maximize profits - reduce costs or increase sales. Ebooks have reduced costs without necessarily increasing sales due to the fracturing of the marketplace.
There is a third way to maximize profits and that is by increasing profit margin. If you can increase profit margin, perhaps by branding or by innovation, you can increase profit margins, without increasing sales.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:23 AM   #18
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There is a third way to maximize profits and that is by increasing profit margin. If you can increase profit margin, perhaps by branding or by innovation, you can increase profit margins, without increasing sales.
He means increase prices. Always a winner.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:33 AM   #19
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He means increase prices. Always a winner.
Or-and what is happening all over in this recovering economy-lay people off and tell the remaining employees they now have to do three people's jobs for the same money or they're next.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:50 AM   #20
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There is a third way to maximize profits and that is by increasing profit margin. If you can increase profit margin, perhaps by branding or by innovation, you can increase profit margins, without increasing sales.
Increasing profit margin can only be done by reducing costs, increasing sales, or raising prices.

If you can sell more units and spread your fixed costs across a larger production that would reduce unit cost but = increased sales.

Branding or innovation won't increase profits unless they lead to increased sales or lower costs.
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:05 PM   #21
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Or-and what is happening all over in this recovering economy-lay people off and tell the remaining employees they now have to do three people's jobs for the same money or they're next.
Recovering for who?
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:18 PM   #22
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I think perhaps i would agree if not for a certain advertising technique called manufactured consent, wherein corporate dons and their advertisers determine which "trend" will sell next. As for the overworked, underpaid American workers, they have no one to blame but themselves for: 1) accepting benefits in lieu of pay and 2) abandoning labor unions. In 1966 I made ten dollars an hour as a short order cook. Today they pay eight. In 1960, my father bought a brand new car for $1995, or about 1 1/5 of his annual income. The price of his home was the same as his annual income.
We are moving backwards by anyone's measure, mostly because we are satisfied to be better off than we were a few years ago, and better off than those workers from other countries who now have our jobs.

In 1963 in the southern U.S., I was told by a carpenter that he and his colleagues would rather work for $4.15 an hour than unionize, because if they unionized they would have to pay the "niggers" the same as them.

My point? Stick together, unionize, organize, If we are determined we want to live in a Capitalist society, thenwe have to live with the fact that those who have the capital run the country. But that does not mean we have to settle.
OK, soap box now put away. Thanks
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