Both writers and fans of thoughtful, literary fiction have long bemoaned the corporate gatekeepers who guard the entrance to paradise—i.e., having a manuscript accepted for publication. I go to bookstores and join in the moaning: Where are the independent voices? Where are the marginalized voices? Where will I find stories of tragedy and triumph among the impoverished and dispossessed? Where is the first novel that may be a little rough around the edges but still sets my hair on fire?
In a recent article in Publisher’s Weekly, author Chris Pavone makes the case that the system of gatekeepers works well. It is an intelligent, well written article, the gist of which is this: the industry, the book-buying public, and yes, even the writers, need gatekeepers. Even very good writers, he says, will be better writers and produce better books after passing through the hands of the gatekeepers.