Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Publishing, Raise Your Standards!

Image result for standards images

The book publishing industry is no longer relegated to the tens of thousands of people involved in editing, printing, and marketing books for mainstream publishers that release around 350,000 new books annually.  It now extends to the writers-turned-publishers, thy hybrid publishers, and the tiny indie presses.  There are over a million new books being manufactured -- print, e-book, audio book in 2019 – and we need to call for some better quality controls.

America needs and deserves books that are produced accurately, quickly, and with something of value inside of them.  There are many good books out there, from traditional publishers, university presses, self-publishers, and the indies.  But, there is also a lot of crap, stuff that should not be published or simply add nothing to what’s already available.

We need to raise awareness about this – and raise our standards.  Right now, everyone has a rush-to-press mentality, but quality controls suffer.  Misspellings, errors, improper quoting, and fake facts are littering our books.  We don’t need the book world to turn into a propaganda machine, the way some traditional media outlets and social media platforms.  Books need to be above that.  They are comprehensive, longer-lasting pieces of the permanent record.  Our society and culture depend on having a collection of reliable, useful, interesting books.

Some solutions are simple.  For instance:

·         No book should be published without a trained, professional editor combing through it.

·         No book should be released without a fact-checker going through everything.

·         No book should be published without a libel check by an entertainment lawyer.

·         A book should be published only, if it offers something better, different, or updated, or at least be more entertaining than existing books.  Why repeat what’s out there?

·         Reviewers need to do a better job of pointing out errors and sloppy editing, even if minor, even if they love the book.  We need a more accurate accounting of things.

·         Writers should seek to explore or share a truth, but not to just propagandize or undermine what they know to be truthful.

·         We need to be better at separating an opinion from fact, just as the media needs to clarify opinion editorial vs. news vs. advertising.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes needed to happen in book publishing rests in my own industry of book publicity.  We need to stop:

  • Promoting books that are mediocre at best.
  • Publicizing a book we have not read or fact-checked.
  • Marketing an author we have not vetted.
  • Ignoring the role money plays in which books our society and culture hear about.
It’s hard to make a change in an industry that’s competitive and focused on being profitable.  This is as true for book publishers as it is for other industries, but if we are to be different than an oil company, a hedge fund, or a used car salesman, book publishing will need to put society, truth, and quality controls before rushing to produce an inferior product.

It may only happen once consumers rebel, if that ever happens.  Or it can happen internally, from within the publishing industry and those that make up its ecosystem.  We should all want to sell and promote the kind of books we would want to read.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."
--Saint Augustine

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
--Saint Augustine

“First comes grub, then morality.”
--Bertolt Brecht

“Youth is a defect that corrects itself with time.”
--Enrique Jardiel Poncela

“It is better to die fighting than to live dying.”
--Tirso de Molina

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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