Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss
I think this statement summarizes the problem I have with your spirited defense of the publishing and music industry. Why does any creative effort have to make money for anyone at all, let alone for someone other than the creator? I suppose we've gotten used to this arrangement, which is predicated on the complexities and costs traditionally involved with both. But it is not inherent to creative output, just an accommodation to the way things have been done.
Because no one lives in a vacuum. Because all writers and musicians want to make money, because they all want to make as much money as possible, despite that some deny that. I don't see them giving it back.
And because of that, they need the distribution and marketing money that will help them earn that. There are quite a lot of musicians and writers who ARE making a good living thanks to the marketing of those companies, and it's likely that few of them would have ever done so on their own. The ones who fail, despite the money thrown around to help them become a success, would not likely have made it on their own anyway.
For those who think that viral marketing over the web works, well it doesn't. The only time it seems to is when there's big money behind it, and guess where that comes from?
In addition, many writers need the help the companies give them with the editors assigned to them, so that they can become better writers. Not everyone is brilliant out of the gate. Most novels, even those from the most respected writers, have been bettered by their editors. And yes, there are poor editors as well, that doesn't disprove the rule. There are far more poor writers.
Fundamentally, I don't see the value of creating barriers to creativity, and not especially for artificially maintaining them in some hope of preventing the "dumbing down" of our society. Maybe that's simply because I don't see where our self-appointed cultural protectors have done an especially good job of it. You've said it yourself -- "bad works are the ones that don't sell." Trying to follow that with an argument for how the industry protects us from declining creative standards seems like a major non sequitur to me.
I don't see it as a barrier. I see it as a help. People who want to self publish because their writing isn't good enough, or the topic has little interest for enough people to make it worthwhile, or because they have scientific concepts that are meaningless will still be able to publish here. I've said that I don't want to stop it, I just don't want to see this cruft become the norm.
But, there are publishing houses that publish high quality works that don't sell well. There will always be higher minded imprints. My statement applied to popular culture where the numbers mean all.
But it's also the purpose to publishers to educate. Modern society has allowed that function to lapse. But the publishers at least keep the worst out.
I believe that this concept of absolute cultural democracy is flawed. It's a race to the bottom.
It's nice to say that everyone deserves their place in the sun, but that's when you start puling reading material and music away from your kids, and monitoring their time on the net. It doesn't work out so well in practice.
Adults are supposed to have better mental filters, but that's a myth.
These companies have tried to present the best up front, while maintaining a certain minimum quality level of popular work to help earnings. It's this "democratization" thats forced them lo lower standards further. It's a defensive move. This will just make it worse.
If you write a really good book, and I hope you do, how will it be seen? In reality, it will get lost in the crowd of other self published junk. You need some entity to say that this is a good book, and we're going to market it so that it will be seen.