Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Is It Time For Book Engineering?
If books can help us solve problems, shouldn’t authors get together to agree on which problems should be made a priority to write about? Or do we let the current system of letting writers choose what to write about stay in place, even if it means society doesn’t benefit as much?
Imagine a more organized society where authors are encouraged, rewarded, and assisted – provided they write on approved topics within certain parameters. If it’s determined that we need fewer books on bullying and abortion, but more on guns and the environment, what incentives would we give to those who choose to write on these topics? To give such incentives and assignments, is that a form of government censorship -- or is it merely a smart and fair way to rally our nation’s writing resources?
If the country needs more nurses, private practices and the government would start paying higher salaries, increasing training, and doing a better job of recruitment. If the nation needs more books on a topic, what concerted effort – and by whom – has or can be made to encourage writers to cover it?
Maybe we need an app that does matchmaking, lining up what books need to be written to writers who are willing and able to write them. Simultaneously, should we have incentives not to write about overdone or useless topics? Who is to say that nothing new can or should be written on such areas?
Further, should we encourage more non-fiction books to be written over fiction? After all, shouldn’t writers first inform us of what is before we explore who we could be?
On the other hand, could fiction at time be more valuable instructive, and interesting than non-fiction? Books don’t just convey or preserve information, but rather, they explore ideas, fantasize alternative universes, prosper theories, and help us dream.
But of the million-plus new books released each year, we probably could use a little more of some kind of books, and fewer of others. Further, we need different areas and angles of an issue explored deeper, further.
Maybe we need books that discuss how to solve real problems, from cancer and terrorism to environmental meltdown and government corruption. And we need fewer books about star athletes, celebrities, and criminals. But that becomes a judgment call of personal preference.
Could we really have a way of guiding writers to cover underserved areas, the way we incentivize people to move and work in Alaska, or to take up a job that’s dangerous?
Some writers will write about anything if there’s enough money flowing their way. Others will feel like they are serving their country by stepping it up. Some writers will become enraptured in an egotistical thing, to overcome a challenge. Certainly other writers will be curious to see if they can uncover something new or different on the topics offered.
Maybe we need a kind of Peace Corps approach to books, where we identify needs and then recruit writers to fill the voids. Writers can come to the rescue and put a spotlight on an issue and raise awareness for it. One book will beget others and before you know it, you have a dialogue going.
So what would we focus a group of writers on?
· Books that explain things well on topics like historical events, how to make money, and how to live a full life
· Books on important things – health, parenting, peace, and government
· Stories that truly inspire our youth
· Books that promote literacy and education
We need books on everything and anything, but we could do with fewer books about Kim Kardashian or Bill Cosby. Engineering the world through books can be powerful and it might require an organized effort but realistically, we can’t architect or quarterback which books get published. As long as a book adds value, it should be published. Alternative viewpoints, contrarian ideas, new takes on old information, and fresh voices with unique perspectives deserve to be heard. We can’t have a quota system for books. Book eugenics may not serve us well.
What we need to organize, however, are higher standards to be imposed for those looking to publish a book. Whether it’s self-publishing or the Big 5, we need to demand writers adhere to certain quality controls. Books need editing, fact checking, and so many other things before they are worthy of being placed in the hands of others. Some books just don’t measure up.
In the coming year I’m sure there will be some books that debut with a lot of success and take us by surprise. There will be great books that come out that we didn’t anticipate and couldn’t even imagine would exist. No amount of planning can guarantee such books would get published and maybe if quotes were in place, some of these books wouldn’t ever see the light of day. That would be a shame.
Writers are free to pursue their heart and what they believe is important. Perhaps that’s the best way.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014