or, The Service Publishers Provide
Here, read this.
Most of you know I read online comix with a great amount of passion and frequency. Or at least now you know.
One of the best is The Order of the Stick.
Now, in the back of my mind, I've always wondered what the hell the point of publishers was. Sure, they can get distributorship deals, but so can a motivated writer.
But in googling about server problems with Erfworld (a comic given web-life by Rich Burlew, creator of OOTS), I ran across the above conversation. Use ctrl+f to find "the Giant" and read what Rich writes.
If you'd like, you can go to the GITP forums and see more of the same.
I submit the above for you, readers, why it's often bad to provide your own content.
Consumers are going to complain about, well, everything. They are also going to speculate, create fan fiction, and do all sorts of things that may (rightly) annoy an artist. When the artist is a whiny d-bag about it (as most are) this is not normally a problem. Complaints, etc. are handled through a 3rd party -- you know, like the publisher. Hell, even this site isn't published by me -- it's got the power of 1 with a hundred zeros behind it. Woot and what-not.
But when the artist is also the content provider, his all-crazy-lame-fests ain't got no filter. Two hundred years ago, Archduke Rudolph told his court buddies to ignore the crazy bullshit of Beethoven. Fifty years ago, Ezra Pound's publishers (and friends) worked to get him out of the crazy house. Publishers provide all sorts of services as far as protecting their artists from their audiences -- and vice versa.
Far be it for me to actually support some sort of intermediation, but with as batshit crazy as so many artists can be -- especially wrt their own work and responses to it, I think it behooves us as thinkers-about-new-methods-of-content-delivery who or what can do the publisher's job of being a buffer between the artist and the audience.