Amazon’s Kindle Store, it seems, is quickly becoming a bandwagon for novels that couldn’t find a publisher elsewhere. Some of these authors are posting respectable sales figures but, for my money, the vetting process is the main advantage traditional publishers have. Self-publishing is still self-publishing, whether as an ebook or POD. I won't buy either, at any price, or even download for free (unless it's an author I'm familiar with), because I don't waste my time reading rubbish. I'm sure there are some diamonds in the rough out there, but I simply don't have time to sift through the dreck trying to find them. With a traditional publisher, at least I know several professional eyes have seen and greenlighted a project before it hits the shelves. I still might be disappointed, but the odds are better that I won't.

What do you guys think? Will sites like Amazon’s Kindle Store eventually put agents and editors on the endangered species list? Or, is the traditional vetting process essential to the future of publishing?

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I think vetting is needed, but how much and for how long?

Several of my Kindle books are collections of previously published short stories--already vetted.

Two of my Kindle novels were submitted by my agent, who vetted them.

But here's where things get interesting. AFRAID, CHERRY BOMB, and FUZZY NAVEL were accepted with very minimal edits. Had I put up my version of my manuscript, vs. the professionally edited one, it would be very hard for readers to spot the differences. SERIAL had no edits at all.

I'm not saying I don't need to be edited. But I do believe that I have a pretty good grasp of how a narrative works. I'd feel confident putting a book up on Kindle that had been vetting by my writing peers (who, admittedly, are all published authors) and a few eagle-eyed fans who have the uncanny ability to spot typos.
Thanks for chiming in, Joe. Good points.
I think vetting is needed, but how much and for how long?

I don't know how much and for how long, but I think authors like you who are agented and published by legitimate presses are the exception among the self-pubbed on Kindle, just as you would be the exception among the self-pubbed POD authors. Most self-published titles are from writers who can't even land a literary agent because their work is subpar.
The more I think about this whole long thread about "vetting," the more I'm aware of the fact that vetting has done little or nothing for my books. Let us except the importance of "gatekeepers, for a moment." Agents sift through the submissions first, editors second. That means that both have already eliminated the "unpublishable" stuff. They may also have eliminated a few gems because they didn't impress them with their marketability. But as to the other sorts of "vetting" you talk about, I have received none. Nobody has helped me rewrite my books.
My agent has never made changes to my published novels, and the changes she proposed to the unpublished ones didn't work and/or didn't help sell the novel. My first editor made no editorial suggestions or changes at all. My second editor is better (thank God). But even here the hand has been gentle.
Considering all this, I feel reasonably confident that I could put as good a book on Kindle by myself as any of the "vetters" can. Of course, I have a lot more experience by now than I had when I was still unpublished. But ultimately, I'm the one who takes responsibility for each book. I can't be waiting for someone else to clean it up and make it look pretty.
IJ,
I think the help you get via the vetting process comes more on the sales end. Using myself as an (admittedly less than perfect) example, if I see ten POD self-published books and yours on a shelf, yours gets the nod, even if I'd never heard of you. I know at least a few people who allegedly know what they're doing have passed judgment on your book, so it gets more trust from me than one Joe Selfpub decided to put out himself for $500.

Anticipating the inevitable reply from someone, I agree a lot of crappy books get through the vetting process. Still, books that have undergone some level of professional editorial scrutiny--whether changes were made or not--are more likely to be of higher quality overall.
Anticipating the inevitable reply from someone, I agree a lot of crappy books get through the vetting process. Still, books that have undergone some level of professional editorial scrutiny--whether changes were made or not--are more likely to be of higher quality overall.

Exactly.
Adrian McKinty made a point on his blog the other day when we were talking about TV executives - two years ago how many would have accepted the idea of man whose father was an African-born Muslim becoming president of the United States?

Sometimes the people doing the "vetting" are out of step with the rest of the population. Books, especially crime novels, have I think, been dumbed down. Maybe that's right, maybe it's not.
Books, especially crime novels, have I think, been dumbed down.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, John.
I mean that the traditional publishing model requires that books be mass marketed. I'm not sure that model will work for books anymore.

I think of books as the delivery system for stories. But a very sepcialized delivery system that only a small minority of people interested in particular kinds of stories are interested in. Most people prefer to be told their stories by TVs and movies. I understand that because for most stories those are superior delivery methods.

For me, I find too many books just want to be movies and they'll never be as good.

But for the stories that just can't be told visually, that are more complicated than movies can ever be, books are perfect. But there isn't such a mass market for them.

I think a lot of publishers are turning down books because they don't feel there is a "big enough," market for them - not because the books aren't "good enough."

New publishing models, though, may make more of these books available.
Well, my book just wants to be a book, but if someone else wants it to be a movie then my agent will be happy to sell them the rights. :)

I think a lot of publishers are turning down books because they don't feel there is a "big enough," market for them - not because the books aren't "good enough."

True, but then that's always been the case. Of every thousand novels written, maybe twenty are publishable. Of those twenty, maybe two actually see print. Let's say all those authors who don't get a book deal decide to self-publish. We'll have to sift through 998 titles to find the 18 that aren't rubbish.
If "publishable" and "marketable" are the same. They may not be.

My publisher has taken a chance on me. My books, generally, appeal to men over the age of thirty. Probably the smallest demographic in the book business. A lot of publishers turned down my books because not enough teenage girls would be interested in them. I hope that doesn't make my books rubbish.
By "publishable" I mean that the prose and narrative structure are strong enough; that is, that the author knows how to write. By "rubbish" I mean that the author does not. My terminology, in this context, has nothing to do with sales potential or demographics. I'm saying that 980/1000 novels written aren't good enough to be published. Anywhere.

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