I wanted to write something deep and thoughtful about this, but I'm too tired. So instead you get something a bit more blunt.
SPA claim that readers are the ultimate gatekeepers, right? That's what Hugh Howey said and others have echoed. It was all the rage on the KDP boards, especially after Chuck Wendig disagreed.
What did they think readers as gatekeepers would do when something wasn't up to snuff?
I mean... even though they all clearly have the blinders on with respect to their own writing, their egos alone should have them anticipating the panning of someone else's book. The evil green site would clearly love for readers to hate on certain authors with whom they disagree. So what, exactly, did they imagine readers-as-gatekeepers would do with the books we found lacking?
Writing a negative review seems like a pretty obvious expectation. Boycotting the unprofessional authors seems like a no-brainer, too.
And yet, when the gate came down and some of them were not allowed to pass, suddenly readers were no longer gatekeepers, but bullies. Because people who have been reading and loving books for years could agree that standards were not being met. You know, much like four out of five dentists can agree that one dental product is better than another.
So, really, what did they think a gatekeeper would do?
Here's a newsflash for them: I don't want to be anyone's gatekeeper. Not that they asked, which is pretty much par for the course. They want to publish, so now every reader on the planet gets to shop for books in an unfiltered slush pile. Gee, thanks.
But if I am going to be a gatekeeper, I'm going to do a good job. I'm going to flag authors who mistreat readers. I'm going to flag books that aren't edited. I'm going to flag authors who trade reviews. And since they're the ones who put me in this position, I sure as hell don't expect to be called names because I actually did a good job of it.
Yes, some readers are going to be easier to please than others. Some are going to be easier to please than the people in charge of submissions at the big six. But that doesn't mean that those of us who actually have standards are being bullies. We're being gatekeepers. And when I'm on duty, and you can't be bothered to edit, or to appreciate readers, or to act like a professional, then you shall not pass.
If you don't like it, then the thing to do is either do better, or go find a different gatekeeper. Maybe someone who's asleep on duty, or a little less diligent. Don't complain that I won't look the other way and let you sneak through.