The New Gatekeeper for Authors

Once upon a time, the gatekeepers in the publishing world used to be editors, literary agents, and hired junior employees for the publishing houses. Not anymore. Authors have given up on the traditional approach and are doing everything themselves. Because of this, the publishing world now has a new gatekeeper… 


Unfortunately, readers are also in charge of the ever-popular slush pile. An average reader may go through hundreds of books before finding one that is entertaining. Self-publishing is the cause of “Reader Slush Pile Syndrome.” Looking back over the last five years, I can understand why this has happened. 

My fear that the purity of books would vanish, has predictably come true. Sure, the traditional system had its flaws and worsened over the years. Publishers refused to change their business models, authors refused to be rejected, and literary agents are not sure who to side with. 

It is a fact that 1% of the top selling authors, control 99% of the market. That means 1% of the market is divided between 800,000 books a year. Why did this happen? For the answer, you need to understand a key word in publishing…Market. Also, authors that have been traditionally published, receive a “gatekeeper pass.” They can come and go as they please, without consequences. 

The Big Six Publishers depend on advertising and marketing sales. So what in the world does that have to do with the quality of your book? The answer? Nothing. Their gatekeepers are trained to look for what can sell, instead of searching for the next great author. 

Self-published authors are not the only ones to blame. When James Patterson has other authors write his books, that is a problem. When bestselling authors change the character names in the book series, but write the same stories, that is a problem. When bestselling authors give testimonials for other bestselling authors, but do not actually read the book, that is a problem. 

For publishers, they would accept 2 out of every 1,000 unknown authors. Those other 998 unpublished authors have found a new way through the cracks. And I say “through the cracks” because self-published authors have avoided any sort of gatekeeper, which is extremely dangerous. 

The main question then becomes, “What makes a great book?” 

That is a precarious question to ask. Nevertheless, the publishing industry signs authors based on that question. Readers determine what author they are going to read based on that question. It is what the author-published or not published-strives for. “Writing a great book!” 

Another problem is artistic point of view. This goes beyond genre, but is defined by the word…niche. Which means, only a handful of people will like a book that is written for a certain type of audience. 

The solution to this problem is to change the gatekeeper. I am not talking about editors who are paid to find authors. Their job is the business of the publisher. I am referring to a unified company that decides which books have value and which do not. A company without preconception, because the authors last novel was on the bestsellers list. Each book will be validated. 

This is a group, not an individual. One person should not decide the fate of a book, but rather an unbiased collection of professionals. Writing a book comes with a prerequisite if the author wants to sell their work for a living. It is the difference between authors that deserve to be published and authors that deserve to be in the slush pile.

Lawyers, doctors, teachers, pilots, and CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies are not self-taught. They did not decide one day, “Hey, I’ll start curing people of cancer.” Or, “I’ll hop in a plane and fly 260 people to Dallas.” Like any profession, authors need to move up the ladder by learning the craft. 

Anyone can write a book. I do not fault people writing out their thoughts or creating a story. I do fault those who mix their work with authors that write as a career. The good, bad, and ugly need to be divided. After eighty years, publishers no longer have the power or influence to decide which authors have merit and which should find another line of work. 

The gatekeeper can discover a great book by using this simple formula: 

Readability + Writing Mechanics + Marketability + Publishing Quality = Validation.  

Notice the word, “Entertaining” is not included in the formula. Why? Because that falls into speculation.

What is the secret formula for authors to create a book that will pass through this new gatekeeper? Actually, it is not a secret. I’ve mentioned it about a thousand times. 

Excel in Reading

Excel in Writing

Excel in Marketing

Excel in Publishing

This new gatekeeper cannot prevent anyone from publishing a book. However, it will do the following: 

  • Abolish slush piles forever.
  • Validate books.
  • Will not require background information or a bio from authors.
  • Inform readers which books have been validated.
  • Renew the purity of books.
  • Force ALL authors to excel with their latest book. No one gets a free pass.
  • A reader can easily choose from a selection of validated books.
  • Reexamining an author’s new book.  

It does not stop there. The same company of gatekeepers will then refer your validated book to stores and readers. Why? Because your book has merit. Think of it as the FDA in publishing. A publisher or literary agency cannot decide an author’s fate. 

The one huge problem with a company that has this much influence, is that they control the publishing world. If you are an author that is rejected by this company, you may think there is no difference compared to the old system with editors and literary agents as gatekeepers. 

Consider this. The validation company has no stake in an author’s career. If they accept your book, it is purely based on your writing. Nothing else matters. The company has nothing to risk or nothing to gain by your failure or success. 

Look for Author Book Validation (ABV) to arrive this summer. It puts authors in full control of their destiny and changes the entire review process in publishing. 

Ron Knight  



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  1. Donna Altman says:

    I enjoyed this article. Although I am proudly self published and doing well with my first novel. I still think the path of the traditional publishing road would keep books at higher standards. It’s just frustrating for authors to break into the business. You feel as though your wheels are turning but going no where fast. Self publishing is growing but in the same sentence it’s not the quick road to the top. It take discipline and constant work to get your book and name out to the public. It’s easy for a few friends and family to buy your book but getting the unknown public to read it is almost impossible. With this said self published authors have to study the trade and read everything they can find on the publishing world, traditional and self. This is another of many articles you’ve written that I felt necessary to put my two cents in with an agreement Donna

  2. “I am referring to a unified company that decides which books have value and which do not.”

    Strong words, mon frere!

  3. Ron Knight says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Bill. That is some really detailed information on the FDA. ~ Ron Knight