As the dead-tree publishers continue their descent into oblivion who is going to filter out the crap? This is one of many points that author, Yuk Onna, was trying to make in a recent post explaining why she does not think a demise of the modern publishing industry is a good thing. As much as I and others like to make fun of publishers for foisting the same old thing on us, they do have their uses. Their use is that they maintain a minimum standard of quality for books that make it to the bookstore. In other words, they filter out the crap.
By 'Crap', I don't mean stories that are trite or have characters that aren't "real". By Crap I mean major, awful, blunders. Things like:
- The Story isn't finished and stops either mid chapter or even mid-sentence
- Spelling and Grammar is so atrocious that it's hard to understand
- Blatant Plagiarism(word-for-word) or even more suble versions like(same story with changed names & dates)
- Doesn't match the story or description
- Huge logic or story blunders, like a character's name gets changed half way through the story.
- The story is missing either a beginning, middle, or end
So how can readers avoid the crap? Readers can depend on publishers to filter out this crap because publishers have a financial incentive to do so. Publishers only want to print good books that sell so they can make money off of them. Books that misspell every other word and doesn't have an ending, aren't going to sell well. If the major publishers go away, who is going to read the slush pile in their absence?
Do we need someone to read the slush pile? Well, yes. Readers don't want to sift through piles of crap to find something that is finished, legible, and resembles a story. If readers have to sift through a pile of crap just to find a mediocre book, they're going to get frustrated and stop looking for good books altogether.
One thing a reader could do is check review sites. My favorite is probably, WebFictionGuide. However, WebFictionGuide can't possibly be expected to read every piece of crap that's produced and review it, can they? Publishers do this because they have a financial incentive for finding the good stuff because they can profit off of it. WebFictionGuide doesn't make money hardly any ad money for verifying that something isn't complete crap. Also, online reviewers have it harder than a traditional book reviewer. A traditional book reviewer only has to read books that have already met some minimum standards of the publisher. In other words, the crap has already been eliminated and they only have to determine if it's a mediocre book or an instant classic. Online reviewers have to do it all on their own.
So if we need something to filter out the crap, and online Review sites aren't the answer? What is the answer? Unfortunately, I don't have the answer. In fact, I don't think anyone has the answer. However it's something all web fiction authors should be thinking about. Oh... and we need an answer before the publishers sue themselves out of existence.