Anyone can write or publish a book. Anyone can market, edit, or sell a book, too. No licensing standards. No legal clearances. No minimum experience required. No moralities threshold. You can be a convicted murderer, rapist, or terrorist — as well as a dummy, hater, cheater, abuser, addict or abject degenerate — and do any of the above.
Does this type of environment allow for the producing of great books and ensure against garbage being published?
Now, free speech, to remain unfettered, cannot have any legal strangleholds to determine who is qualified to share their viewpoints, art, or reporting. However, we could use some suggested higher standards or voluntary guidelines to raise the quality of books released.
We could also use some encouragement to hold people accountable and demand that those who practice the art of book publishing, sales, editing, marketing, and reviewing deliver a higher level of product and service.
On the other hand, other industries are not much better than book publishing. Is Hollywood, Wall Street, Capitol Hill, or Madison Avenue holdings its products, services, or practitioners to greater standards to ensure it produces high quality work?
Don’t look to politics for hope. To qualify to run for president of the United States, you don’t have to pass a knowledge or skills test, don’t need to have prior legislative experience, are not required to be physically or mentally fit, and you could have a long record of criminal convictions. Just be 35 and make sure you were born here.
The US Supreme Court is similar. You don’t need to be a judge or even a lawyer to sit on the highest court.
No wonder America draws in some awful candidates for high office. We see higher standards in place to be a barber, taxi cab driver, or dog groomer.
Publishing can do better, regardless of how pathetic other industries are. It is not that we need regulation for its own sake or for regulating to become a cash cow business unto itself, but it would be nice to see publishing reform itself.
For instance, should there be a certification process so that one can be acknowledged as being minimally experienced, trained, or qualified to do what they do, whether it be editing, marketing, or selling books? Could there be trainings that are required to all licensed professionals even after they are certified? Can there be an ethics course delivered? How about one on better communication, time management, and relevant legal issues?
The book industry is basically a conglomeration of the following:
**5, soon-to-be 4, huge publishing corporations
Three out of four newly published books come from the non-traditional, self-published arena. Many freelancers are hired to do work for first-time, amateur authors. This is all done by the pull and tug of free market forces, of trial and error. No standards. No trainings. No centralized database of information or registration.
Publishing is a Wild West product of the global gig economy, where one’s side hustle can impact what we read or discover — and impact a writer’s career.
Now, to be fair, there are various trade associations that seek to educate its members while helping to promote the services of its members. Some will occasionally discuss ethics, offer classes, and help polish the image of its group. But these groups fo not work together and the average author doesn’t even know these groups exist.
The book world couldn’t even unify to keep its lone industry event going, shuttering its 73-year-old Book Expo America. The answer is not to continue doing things in virtual silos.
We need to truly unite, gather, support, and educate one another. We can still compete with one another, but let’s elevate our work product so that better books can be produced and used to inspire a better world.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: .