Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Are There Any Standards In Place For Authors?
The answer may seem obvious, but here’s a question that I pose: Do authors need to be trained on how they should approach writing books?
Anyone can write a book. There are no licenses required. There are no degrees that one must have. No one’s permission is needed. If you want to publish a book, you can. But just because one has the opportunity to write a book, should he or she write one without having an informed framework of how to research, write, and edit a book?
I’m talking specifically about books that involve important topics. How can anyone put out a book, say, about medical subjects, without following a certain protocol or standard, otherwise risking the dissemination of incomplete, incorrect, or unsubstantiated information?
Even if we think someone is qualified to write a book, based on their education levels, work experience or personal insights, how do we know such a person is putting out a book that’s based on facts, fairness, proper analysis, and a lot of good research? How can we even compare one book with another based on how an author approached his or her subject?
Look at the books out there that cover major topics:
· Health, diet and fitness
· The environment
· Safety issues
· Rights or legal issues
Who or what is out there to safeguard the quality of the books being published? It’s not just about self-publish vs. traditional publish. It’s about whether a book is accurate, fair, comprehensive, probing, and up-to-date in what it chooses to share, analyze, or promote. It’s about whether we can trust any author not only to not lie but to accidentally leave relevant data out or to simply misunderstand and thus misrepresent the facts. Authors can be ignorant, make errors, be prejudiced or have an agenda – all of which can impact what they write, how they present things, and what they omit.
Books can change the world, solve major issues, and play a vital role in all levels of life. They can also be damaging and detrimental to the process. Bad books, are just as significant as the good ones, especially when readers don’t know the difference.
It is unlikely that we can create laws that force writers to follow certain standards, but there should be a movement to encourage writers to follow standards that include accuracy, ethics, and fairness.
Writers need to feel morally obligated to produce books that benefit society and that are crafted in a format that follows a standard that’s followed by all writers. Perhaps writers need to ask themselves these questions:
· Did I present theory as fact?
· Did I present facts accurately?
· Have I acknowledged the other side and presented viewpoints?
· Did I quote many sources, especially respected ones?
· Did I have another, disinterested party, edit or give feedback on the book prior to publication?
· Am I letting my personal views, politics, or religion get in the way of how I write about something?
· Am I trained or smart enough to know what I’m writing about?
· Do I add anything new to the subject I write about?
· If I differ from other books, why? Did I double-check all of my claims?
Common sense, personal responsibility, professionalism and writing skills should always prevail, but given there are dumb, bad, or inaccurate books out there, I call upon voluntary standards to be imposed so that society can be assured that its books don’t do more harm than good.
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