It seems to me that publishing is the only business in which to even get started, one is expected not only to produce great art, but to do it perfectly. Authors are cautioned not to take their manuscripts to market before they are “ready.” Every writer must be Yo-Yo Ma. Perfect craft and high art. If you are still working your way up, you must do it in private until you have “paid your dues.”
Paid them to whom?
Justin Beiber and Amanda Hocking get mocked for producing pop. Their work is neither high art nor perfect craft, yet they are obviously wildly successful for a reason. They appeal to their target markets, which they reached by circumventing the dues-extracting system.
The visual arts is the only other business I know of where those producing the popular are derided by those producing “great art.” Thomas Kinkade took a lot of crap. Damien Hirst artwork sells for millions. But which would you want in your living room?
Wait, maybe this is the wrong crowd to ask that question…
But even in the visual arts, no one suggests that the student hide his work. Student artists show their drawings. Student musicians play in recitals. In fact, a music teacher is likely to demand that students play in recitals. But student writers are advised to hide their work, sharing it only with critique groups, beta readers, and mentors, until its “ready.”
Ready according to whom?
Why is that? Is this a restriction we impose on ourselves? Does it come from agents and editors who are tired of amateur work in their slush piles? I highly doubt it comes from readers.
I agree with Seth Godin (yeah, I know, I quote Godin a lot), who said:
Today, a teenager can self-publish an ebook in five minutes, for free, and I hope she will. The single best thing to happen to the future of book publishing is the fact that young people who believe that they have something to say now have a chance to say it.