Since I have my ongoing series of essays about the current changes in publishing(1) I was pleaseed to stumble across an interview with Neil Gaiman in which he touches on this very subject. If Neil Gaiman says something, it has to be true, right?
An excerpt from the interview:
And what about the changing role of publishers in the book world?
[Neil Gaiman]: I feel right now as if we are at the end of something. And I am very pleased that I got in before it finished. Publishing was always predicated on the concept of the gatekeeper, and on the fact that it was expensive and difficult to get something into people’s hands. That is no longer true. We are still in a world that needs gatekeepers, but only just. When I was a young book reviewer, the early 1980s, I was reading all the science fiction and fantasy and horror that was being published in the UK during the course of the year, plus other stuff. It was perfectly readable by one person. That would be impossible today: you have gone from there to a world in which it is easier than it has ever been to get your information out there, to do your thing.
And another bit:
Do you feel it is a good time to be a young writer?
[Neil Gaiman]: It’s an amazing time to be a young author. Your options are almost infinite. The playing field may not be perfectly flat, but it’s really so much flatter than anybody every believed. The truth is, if I were starting out right now, writing short stories or whatever, I would build my little off-the-peg website, no need for a publisher at that stage, maybe never. Although I’m fascinated by how many mainstream publishers keep an eye on the web for people who are good. But just the idea that I could get stuff done and out like that, that I wouldn’t be dependent in any way on any other gatekeeper.
[Interviewer]: I think a lot of older authors have sour grapes about it: it was rather cosy to be removed from that messiness. It makes me feel we’re getting back to something like the early days of newspapers as scurrilous rags, and of authors hawking their wares, their stories, on the streets and by subscriptions.
[Neil Gaiman]: I love the messiness of it. I think in some ways we’re back even earlier than that, at the point where you turn up at the village and you say, give me a meal for the night and I’ll tell you stories. So, yes, it is a good time, a really good time to be a young writer. Any time that all of the rules are changing is a good time.
Full interview is over at the Prospect Magazine: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/06/neil-gaiman-the-prospect-interview/.
HT: 4th Guy.(2)
(1) Rundy’s essay series on the future of publishing: http://creative-vapors.com/essays/the-future-of-publishing-essay-series/
(2) 4th Guy’s blog post linking to Neil Gaiman interview: http://4thguy.blogspot.com/2010/06/exerpt-from-interview-with-neilhimself.html