A few days ago there was a Twitter event called Pitmad. Basically you write your best book pitch in 140 characters or less, tag it with the #pitmad hashtag, and lots of agents and publishers camp Twitter as much as possible and add the most likely ones to their favorites. If you get a fav, you get to query the agent.
Anyway, the agents were griping about how all they see is young adult fantasy and they wished for [insert genre here]. While I know a lot of them work with imprints that only publish, say, romance, I found it very interesting. There were a lot of fantasy queries (I read lots of them with interest).
It made me think about gatekeepers. Really, we’re presented with the kinds of books they think we’d like to read, or should read. Compared to the sheer numbers of people with stories out there, published books are really a very narrow range. No wonder the indie books are going crazy. I’m not a fan of Howey’s Wool, but it was different and fits the cultural depression of the moment. Or the Song of the Summer King, a book with griffin main characters.
A lot of indie books I’ve read have been an unedited mess, but there have been some really fantastic ones, too. I’ve read some really good stuff in exchange for reviews. And, moreover, they’re different. Way different from the samey-samey you see on the shelf.
I know there’s sort of a war on between Amazon and the big publishers right now, and I hate to pick sides. There’s merits and drawbacks to both traditional publication and self-publication. But watching the agents talk about how they’re tired of certain genres and want to see other stuff–especially the sex-heavy New Adult genre–is eye-opening. The system is old and tired, and Amazon is blowing some fresh winds of change.