There are many people who believe the glut of independently published works will diminish the quality of literature in the marketplace. They argue that the traditional publishers are the ones who bring true literature to the world.
I don’t say that flippantly. I say that practically.
One could argue that television has never been better than right now. Why? A couple of factors. The most important is competition. More content deliverers (Netflix, Amazon, HBO, AMC, networks, etc.) need more content produced. This drives quality.
Yet, this has occurred with youtube in existence. Youtube, the place where anyone can upload just about anything. Most of it sucks, some of it is awesome.
Does it diminish the work on television? Or the movies?
Why? Because people like variety. Sometimes they want to see a cinematic classic, other days a movie with a lot of explosions, and, while avoiding work, silly cat videos.
The elitist view from pro-trad publishing is not a new song in the artistic community. It’s most common in movies. You have the serious film and the summer blockbusters. You have artists and popcorn directors.
As Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) said in the film Bowfinger, “It’s too cerebral! We’re trying to make a movie here, not a film!”
The truth is there are places for both types of film, just like there are places for multiple types of video. The same is true for fiction.
Writing isn’t precious. It’s not special. It’s a bunch of words strung together. We do it everyday when we write an email. Some people are able to line up enough words in a compelling order to create stories. Some of those are pulp, some are art. Some are classics, some are diversions.
All are okay.
Independent publishing will no more dilute literature than youtube will the Oscars. And, like the Oscars, the powers that be may one day recognize popcorn directors like Hitchcock and Spielberg are actually artists.
The same will unfold in the fiction world. Like television, more competition will drive quality and innovation.
I write popcorn young-adult thrillers. I don’t want to write the next fiction masterpiece. I want to entertain as many readers as possible. I want to be the Michael Bay of fiction. The Alfred Hitchcock of YA thrillers. The Steven Spielberg of coming of age action stories.
I don’t care what the powers that be think about my work. I just care what my readers think.
Who would you rather be? The writer of the Transformers of fiction that delights millions of readers worldwide or the author of Birdman, which critics adore but virtually no one will see?