Monday, June 13, 2016

Unanswerable Writer Questions

I have a hard time answering certain questions, simply because they touch upon things that are difficult to respond to.  Here are a few:

1.      Authors who are starting out and want to get a literary agent or publisher interested in them, are told they need to have a platform and social media following if their book is to be considered for publication. They are in a Catch-22 situation:  How do they become known before they have a book to promote?

2.      Authors who write great books – maybe even masterpieces – want to know how they can convince the media to look at their work of art if no one knows that their book is so wonderful?

3.      If there’s no consensus on a recognizable standard of what makes a book great, how are publishers or literary agents able to judge which books should be published based soley on the quality of writing?

4.      Why does a book win several awards but not even place in the finalists of others?

5.      Why do some books that sell a lot, of copies not make a best-seller list?  Why do books make one best-seller list but not any others?

The book industry seems to be plagued by questions such as these five. Some of this is due to lack of information or understanding of the process by authors, but some of it comes up because authors feel like they aren’t being treated fairly.

The book industry attracts a lot of competitive egos. Authors are jealous of those who get published or succeed.  There’s a sibling rivalry quality to how many authors view one another.  The smarter authors help each other and realize there’s room for many published authors to carve out their turf.

Still, I can see why authors get depressed or feel frustrated by the process, from getting published and reviewed, to promoted and marketed.  They just, more than anything else, want to write and to be read and appreciated for their talent, ideas, passion, and works of art.  They want to be judged for their words and not the sideshow stuff of platforms, Tweets, and Facebook likes.  But authors are judged by certain metrics, just as some women are judged by their looks, men by their earning power, or athletes by their size.  It may not be fair, but writers, and others get measured by things that they may not value or see as relevant.

The world of publishing is, like any other industry, plagued by politics, money, perceptions, personalities, and the prejudices of those in important positions.  There may always remain an inherent lack of fairness when it comes to something that is art and not science, but it would be nice if we could find a way to answer the questions that writers confront on a daily basis.

We’d like to think that regardless of the weaknesses to any system – publishing included – that somehow the really good writer does get discovered and that all great books find their readers.  But we know that isn’t so, leaving us with this question: How do we improve the system by which books are published and sold?

That is one question that has been around since the first book came off the presses and will continue to fester at those who now practice publishing in the digital era.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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