Plot was out, masturbation in

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‘I read Conway’s Daughter, too. I loved that. I suppose you hear that all the time.’
‘Remarkably little,’ he said honestly. Miranda had also loved Conway’s Daughter, but most of his coffeehouse friends had been noncommittal and most of the critics had clobbered it. Well, that was critics for you. Plot was out, masturbation in.
Source: 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Context: A writer, Ben Mears, has just met Susan, who recognizes him because she is reading one of his novels, AIR DANCE. Ben has recently lost his wife, Miranda, in a motorcycle accident. The above passage is supposed to be Ben's thoughts about books critics.

What does the bolded phrase mean?
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