Slush piles for all

One of the things that the net is supposed to be good at is openness and democratisation. Riders of various hobby horses bang on about it all the time, ad nauseum.

I paid it scant regard, until I got an iPad and installed iBooks and Kindle. There were, I was assured, shedloads of decent free eBooks out there. Just as well, I thought, because a quick look around the commercial offerings was underwhelming and expensive.

So I stocked up on Kindle Store and iBook store freebies. Erotica, fantasy, paranormal romance, unspecified fiction. My partner did likewise with other genres.

It was like stepping back in time, to when I was employed as an editor and one of my tasks was to monitor the slush pile while being appalled and amazed at the sheer drivel people felt compelled to try to get published. Bad grammar, worse spelling, idiot plots, idiotic characertisation. It was not a place to hang around long, not even when you were being paid to be there. It was not an experience you could share, as entry was strictly for those in the industry.

But now, thanks to eBook stores, you don’t have to be a professional editor to experience the horrors of truly bad writing that has not been through an editorial filter. With gazillions of self-published titles, everyone has the opportunity to clutter their reading devices with sub-literate gems that are mostly tedious but occasionally truly hilarious.

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