Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Self-publishing, and a sense of entitlement

Jason Kuznicki, from Positive Liberty, recently hosted the Carnival of Citizens #4. He was dismayed by the experience, as he explains here. Our exchange in the comments section of that entry has made me think about this:

Has the ability to self-publish led to our developing a sense of entitlement?

In the old days, one had to get a publisher to think one's material was worth publishing. Or else one could put one's writings in a newsletter of one's own creation, but, well, that was an expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating endeavour. Some did, sure; there is, for example, no shortage of quack-“medicine” newsletters, and people did do that sort of thing with short stories here and there. It's just waaaaaay easier now, as you see here (who would publish this stuff for real?). All you need now is to be a ten-year-old with a modem.

If anyone can self-publish their essays, then, “Carnivals” are — or should be — our equivalent to getting your essays published in magazines. If you send something in to a magazine, an editor looks at what you've written, considers it critically, decides whether it meets the needs of the magazine, decides whether to include it... and either includes it or sends you (well, not always, but if they're nice) a rejection letter. Everyone who's written anything for publication has, at some time or another, received a rejection letter.

Carnivals ought to work the same way. Some do, by keeping it tight: the Carnival of the Liberals highlights ten posts every fortnight. If they get 30 submissions, or 50, well, there are a bunch that don't get in. That's the way it is. Other carnivals are less selective, but most, at least, have some level of filtering, and, while you might be disappointed if your post isn't selected for inclusion, there's no cause to be angry nor to think ill of the editor.

But do we maintain that perspective, in general? Has the ease of publishing our own essays made some of us think that we're entitled to get them into all the carnivals too?

I'd be interested to hear, in the comments, from any who've hosted carnivals, about whether you've taken flak from authors you've rejected, or whether you've had other negative experiences in hosting.

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

I've taken mock flak from one guy when I hosted Liberals, but he's a joker and he always gives mock flak if he misses the cut and (I hope) mock and over-the-top crows when he doesn't. Otherwise, just a couple of puzzled questions on I and the Bird when some html code errors caused several posts to disappear - and they don't count since the authors had been told they'd been accepted.