Henry Baum flouts the idea forwarded by Roxane Gay that independent authors still need gatekeepers:

On many self-released books with a Kindle ranking of 10,000 or lower, you’ll seem comments like, “badly in need of an editor.” Yet you’ll also see 30 5-star reviews that don’t mention editing whatsoever. This book that was potentially rejected by an agent/publisher is selling hundreds of copies a day, despite its weaknesses.

At the risk of sounding like a snob: non-sophisticated readers will not care if writing is non-sophisticated, and there are a lot more non-sophisticated readers than sophisticated ones. That’s millions of potential readers.  Publishers might like to believe that they have the finger on the pulse of what sells – or what should sell – but when mediocre writing is becoming a bestseller, this pretty much renders the slush-pile meaningless.

Applying the same principle to music, Baum points to a piece by Meghan Daum on the "Friday" phenomenon:

[A]ttention and fame these days are as much about hate as about love. To do anything in a public arena is to invite an insta-response that will echo just as loudly with harsh critics as with fans. It means having as many "dislikes" as "likes," as many people making fun of you as embracing you and, when it comes to the Internet, as many scathing, borderline abusive comments as supportive ones (and often many more). It means understanding or learning the hard way that being extremely popular is now basically the same thing as being extremely unpopular. ...

Many young people today grasp that, at least on an unconscious level. But for just about anyone who came of age in the pre-Internet era and that would include [Rebecca] Black's mother the notion that public hate can be a perverse form of public validation will always remain, well, perverse.

And regardless of how "good" Black's song is, she's still making bank for a thirteen year old.

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