"... Let’s compare music and literature for a moment. No, not the industries, which are following similar disruptions due to the arrival of the digital age, I mean the people who make music and those who craft literature. Let’s look at the artists.
How many people teach themselves to play the guitar? We celebrate this, don’t we? Even as they go through the callous-building phase, we admire anyone who learns the grammar of chords and then strings these phrases together into music. They begin by playing cover tunes the way an aspiring author might write fan fiction. They go on to strum on the sidewalk with a hat by their feet much like someone might blog and hope for a donation. They play small venues on open-mic nights that we can think of as free books on Smashwords. They get a few paying gigs, which is like self-publishing on Amazon. They hope to gain a following, local at first. Maybe they’ll get invited to open for a bigger act, which would be akin to scoring a blurb from a bestselling author. Perhaps a scout will see them live or on YouTube, like an agent noticing an author on a bestseller list. This is how artists are born. They are self-made. They perform for people. They learn and improve as they do both.
The old route for literary success looks stodgy and outdated by comparison. You write in a vacuum or for a professor who frowns on genre; you workshop with other writers; you craft a query letter; you appeal to the tastes of an intern at a literary agency; you claw your way out of the slush pile; you hope to win over an editor at a major publishing house; your book comes out a year later and sits spine-out on a bookshelf for six months; it gets returned to the publisher and goes out of print; you start over. The general reader is a mile away from you in this process. You never had a chance to be heard by the only people who truly matter. ..."
Link to the rest at Salon.com