Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Can Book Publishing Take A World Cup Approach?

There’s plenty of competition in the book publishing world: for sales and best-seller status, for media exposure, and social media branding.  But little of it seems out in the open, the way nations compete in the World Cup.  Maybe the book industry needs a public forum for competing authors and publishers to go up against one another.  Maybe we need an event or competition where fans can see a spectacle and root for their favorites.  Maybe publishing needs to toss its glasses off and step out of its intellectual nerd zone and find a way to have authors compete as if gladiators.

It probably won’t happen, but why can’t we have a competition once a year, where authors blatantly trash-talk other authors, hold rallies for their fans, and then go at each other in front of judges based on certain criteria.  I’m not talking about polite submissions for literary awards, where judging is done anonymously.  I want to see an out-in-the-open competition, writer vs. writer.

Here are the components authors would be judged on:
·         Rating select passages 
·         Rating the cover of their book
·         Rating the title-subtitle
·         Comparing sales figures
·         Comparing most creative social media posts
·         How they handle an aggressive, gloves-off Q&A with the audience
·         Judging an author’s two-minute elevator speech
·         Comparing book trailers or websites

I want to see a stadium or arena filled with readers who are ready to boo or applaud the authors and where people get to witness an obstacle course of author challenges and battles.

Reading books may be a private experience and a personal one, but it would be great to gather a community of like-minded people and have them see popular and talented authors duke it out.

The formula for success in sports works well – whether it’s nationalistic pride in World Cup soccer competition, city pride in professional sports like baseball or football, or individual brand pride, as in tennis or golf.  The things that bond and destroy society are one in the same – breaking people down by demographics.  Should we throw that into publishing?  Is it good to give people pride in their identity, and provide them with a hero to root for, someone whom they feel like they can connect with – whether by race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or geography?

Ok, it would seem like a step back to turn the world of words and inclusion and imagination into a battlefield based on irrelevant criteria, such as faith or geography, but it would be great it publishing can tap into some kind of natural rivalry amongst authors or fans and exploit it to expand the popularity of the book industry.

I want book publishing to have its Hunger Games, Super Bowl, Academy Awards, or World Cup.  The raw materials are there for a wonderful spectacle. If a TV network covers the event, it can grow fast and turn into a real thing.  If girls softball high school games get televised, and chess tournaments and dog competitions – nothing wrong with any of them – can’t time be made available to a competition involving our leading writers who inspire millions of Americans, entertaining and informing the masses like no one else can?

Books are the building blocks of society, laying the foundation for our imagination.  It’s time we honor and highlight the role they play in our world.  Sure hitting a ball with your foot looks like fun, especially when your nation wins, but it’s time to cheer on the person who uses mere words to change lives, pursue dreams, and live a full life.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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