As some of you know, I’ve been an editor, researcher and technical writer since I started graduate work. You name it, I’ve done it: everything from novels to academic monographs to engineering manuals to epidemiological studies.
Now I’ve decided to make the leap to the Web. Why? Because like a lot of others, I’ve picked up the self-publishing bug—wrong metaphor, I’ve become a convert. Not only do I plan to self-publish a collection of short stories within the next few weeks, but I’ve also become convinced that self-published books can be as good—and maybe even better than—traditionally published books. I can think of two strong reasons for optimism.
1. Matching editors and writers is the key to creating successful books. The difference between a good and great book, after all, is always in the details. Just look at the effect of someone like John W. Campbell, Jr. on science fiction. Now that no one is bound to one publication or one publishing house (and the conflict of interest that creates), it’s going to be a lot easier to bring about those mutually beneficial matches.
2. Readers will be the only gatekeepers. One of the most ridiculous laments against self-publishing says that the demise of the gatekeepers open the flood gates to a “tsunami of crap.” Sure, the e-book market is rife with rough, poorly written books that never would have seen the light of day before self-publishing.
But let’s not forget that traditional publishers flooded the market with cheap knock-offs of whatever happened to be selling at the time. Like Harry Potter? Well here’s Barry Totter, Parry Hotter, etc.—none of which should have seen the light of day if traditional publishing had been focused on bringing out only the best of the best—i.e., if they’d served as the gatekeepers they now claim to have been.
Let me close with a word about Maieutics. In case you don’t know, the word “maieutics” comes from the Greek word for “midwife.” Socrates famously claimed in Plato’s Theaetetus to be a “midwife of the mind,” which is more or less how I see my role as editor. Being a midwife to someone else’s creation is really being the sober, impartial person in the room with long experience bringing babies into the world.
(By the way, any feedback on the site would be much appreciated!)