December 14, 2016

The Gatekeeper Function

When I was invited to contribute to The Malahat Review‘s Publishing Tips guest column, I chose to write about the gatekeeper function. Traditionally, writers only publish and develop a following by dealing with gatekeepers such as journal editors, book publishers, and agents. Bypassing the gatekeeper by self-publishing seems like an easy way to avoid the grief and frustration inherent in any project that relies on the approval of others, but taking this shortcut has its own perils. Currently, I’m strongly in favour of the gatekeeper function, but it wouldn’t be difficult to argue against it. Self-publishing efforts that take advantage of innovations in publishing and online promotion may be feasible, depending on the circumstances. Here’s the full text of the column: THE GATEKEEPER FUNCTION Sarah spent the last few years publishing in literary journals, making the short list of the CBC contest, and finishing her first novel. She ranked her submission targets, sending queries to agents first. Response times varied from hours, to days, to months, to never. One agent was very complimentary, stressing her taut expression and original thought, before ultimately declining. A few others wanted to charge a reading fee, and that didn’t seem right. Having exhausted the […]