Musings on the Role of the Gatekeeper

2433974084_b2b2f16587_zBoth 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.

For those fortunate enough to see the inside of the gate, Mr. Pavone’s assessment is probably correct. For the select few, the industry’s resources do, in fact, make rough manuscripts into polished product, because polished, marketable, profitable product is the goal. New voices, new ideas, new formats? Nah, not so much.

There was a time when it was the work of publishers to identify and nurture talented writers whose work would not only explore and illuminate our cultures and traditions, but also introduce us to new civilizations and new experiences. Publishing was the gate through which we could all pass into a world of ideas and understanding. Unfortunately, for a long time now, that gate has opened only wide enough to let the profits trickle through.

Until recently, writers and readers alike had no choice but to accept the corporate model of publishing because it was the only way to get books into the hands of readers. With the emergence of small independent publishers, that is no longer true. Twisted Road is proud to join the ranks of the independents, whose role it will be to open the gates for a new wave of talented writers and enthusiastic readers.

Photo Credit:  Giovanni Orlando via Compfight