Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can The Book of Mormon Save Publishing?

After attending a recent evening on Broadway with The Book of Mormon, I was left with these thoughts:

      This won nine  Tony’s? It seems more like an Off-Broadway show.
<    Interesting premise, okay execution.

But my everlasting thought has been: Where is The Book of Mormon approach to publishing?

The play satirizes religion, especially Christianity and Mormons, though it ignores the part everyone is most fascinated by – the multiple wives thing.  It downright blasphemies religion and yet it seems to conclude with a positive message: No matter what you believe, believe in something.  Even if the stories we are told seem like fiction, once you choose to believe in something beyond yourself, you feel stronger, happier, and united.

The play shows the power of missionaries.  Why can’t publishing have missionaries, people who spread the word about, well, more words? The industry needs organized advocates to proselytize and teach people the life-changing value of books. It doesn’t have to be The Book of Mormon, but some book or books are bound to change, inspire and transform readers.

It’s interesting how all religions to sell their Scripture and use it to lure new followers. Publishing fails to rally around the concept of not one book, but all books.  The collective book form is our gospel.  We need to each be a missionary and heal the lives of others through the words found in all books.

Maybe Fifty Shades of Grey is the industry’s Book of Mormon.  It’s changing people’s sex lives, perceptions, and desires. Perhaps every hot-selling book is the one the entire industry needs to rally around, in order to sell readers on all books.

Or maybe The Book of Mormon should be sold to more people.  Apparently even a play that mocks the real book and depicts religion as a cult is not enough to dissuade people from joining the Mormon Church.  I saw a story in the NY Post about a woman who thought the play was so funny that it made her curious enough to learn more about the faith.  She’s now a member of the church.

Perhaps the industry needs a mocking satire of itself on Broadway in order to get more people to buy books. It can be called Death by Amazon.  I’m sure someone’s working on it now.

Do you believe? Tell a friend – or convert. 

Interview With Crime Novelist Neil Plakcy

1. What type of books do you write?  Traditional crime fiction (four golden retriever mysteries, starting with IN DOG WE TRUST, about a guy and a dog in a small town); police procedurals (seven Mahu Investigations, about an openly gay homicide detective in Honolulu); and M/M romance (several stand-alones, and five books in the Have Body, Will Guard series about a pair of bodyguards working around the Mediterranean.)

2. What is your newest book about? In NATURAL PREDATORS, the murder of an island patrician brings to light a scandal with roots in the time just before Hawaii achieved statehood.
What inspired you to write it?  I read a couple of graphic novels set in the 1950s in Hawaii, and that got me thinking about what it must have been like in the tumultuous days just before statehood. One of the hallmarks of my series has been the protagonist’s interaction with his family, and this gave me a chance to explore how his family history is tied into the state’s.

3. What is the writing process like for you? I write almost every day, for at least an hour in the morning, at my local Starbucks. I’ve gotten my brain to recognize that when I open the laptop and settle down with my grande toffee nut mocha (with whip and a mocha drizzle) that it’s time to write. On a good day I can get down five pages—but I also spend lots of time brainstorming, doing online research, and making minor revisions. I usually begin with an idea of a crime (for NATURAL PREDATORS a murder, for DOG BLESS YOU a theft). Then I think ahead to the first plot point, about a third of the way through. What will happen to shift the book in a different direction? I hope that by the time I’ve reached that first plot point, I’ll know what the second one is. And then to the end! I usually do at least two or three drafts before I show the book to anyone.

4. What did you do before you became an author? Well, since I started writing when I was sixteen, I guess the answer is “high school student.” But I’ve also had many other careers since then – a college administrator, a construction manager for a shopping center developer, a computer games producer, a web developer, and now, a college English professor.

5. How does it feel to be a published author? I am incredibly grateful for the career I have been able to have. Not just to be able to sit down and write – and have an audience. But for all the emails and notes from readers, and for the chance to meet other writers whose work I love.

6. Any advice for struggling writers? Two things: read, and write. I believe that by reading you develop an innate understanding of language, sentence structure and rhythm. Then take a book you have enjoyed and analyze it – what makes it tick? Is it the character, the voice, the plot, the descriptions? Writing is like a muscle – it gets better the more you exercise it. So write, as much as you can. Put it away, then come back to it sometime later – maybe a week, a month, a year. Revise, fixing the errors and improving the language. Keep doing that until the book is the best you can make it.

7. Where do you see book publishing heading? E-publishing has opened the floodgates for anyone who has a story to tell. If you can write, and you can deliver a good reading experience, you can find readers, without worrying about the global economics of publishing conglomerates, who are only willing to bet on the horses they believe will win the race. There’s a lot of room for niche authors, so you can write the book you want, make it great, and then put it out there for readers. I think booksellers, reviewers and bloggers will be the new gatekeepers – they will help the ordinary reader discover great books.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013

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