Who Should Greenlight What Gets Published Or Consumed?

For today’s writing tip, I asked if I could repost a blog article by Brian Feinblum from the BookMarketingBuzzBlog. I read it Sunday, and I think Brian really nailed it. Thanks Brian.

If you look at the entertainment industry, you realize how often mistakes are made in deciding which content should get green-lighted, from movies, television shows, and music albums to toys, books, and theater. So what does it mean if the so-called experts – the book publishers, big movie houses, and giant record labels — stink at predicting commercial success?The lesson learned should be that plenty of things that get released to the marketplace fail for any number of reasons – misreads of consumers, simply too much competition, the product wasn’t as good as the concept, something changed in society from the time a project was approved to when it came out, the people making decisions didn’t do their due diligence or shouldn’t even be in the positions they are in.

Additionally, many projects fail to get green-lighted for any number of reasons, including the fact that some in the position of making decisions don’t really know anything, are prejudiced, lack metrics to make good decisions, guessed wrong, approved of something that later turned out differently, or lack the intelligence, taste, experience, and acumen to properly make such important choices.

How many books never got published because a few editors or literary agents lacked the ability to see the talent in front of them? How many movie scripts or Broadway plays failed to get purchased only because a handful of decision-makers unfairly judged others by irrelevant standards?

Are we really seeing the best movies, plays and TV fare that could exist? Are we actually reading the best books that can be written? Is the music we listen to inferior to what could be produced?

I guess we’ll never know.

The good news is that more and more people, because of crowdfunding, lower entry costs, self-publishing, sponsors, and the Internet can get the project done. Any half-decent idea or concept can be turned into a play – movie – book – TV show – music album and have an opportunity to get exposure. But this creates a new problem – a flooding of free and inexpensive content that leaves consumers exhausted in trying to figure out what to consume, not to mention getting consumption-fatigue once choices are made on what to read, see, or listen to.

Everyone is a creative artist or writer. Is anyone a consumer? So much content is out there. The gate-keeper issue may be waning, but the issue of competition heats up. Whereas in the past, others narrowed down what consumers chose from, now we have so much choice that we can’t fathom nor properly assess all of these choices.

It’s like struggling to make a lot of money and then suddenly, once you are flush with cash, there’s nothing left to buy. Or it’s like being hungry and in a room full of food but not having a key to open the door to get the food. We’re so close to creating nirvana for creative people but we’re drowning in all of these creations.

If the answer is not “bring back the gatekeepers,” it should be “bring back the news media.”

We need qualified people to inform us of the books that are worthy of our attention. Amazon book reviews, author blog posts, or celebrity tweets aren’t enough. Traditional media reviews too few books. Even if a reliable source were to review 3,000 books a year (60/week), that reflects only less than 1% of what traditional publishers release in a year. Self-publishing and POD may even publish double that.

Only when we create some type of master system, where every single book is catalogued, reviewed by a singular standard, and made available to everyone will we have a fair, useful, and ethical system. Until then, we’re only as informed as the books we know exist, let alone have time to read.

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In honor of Christmas, we are opening up registration for my online writing workshops for a few days. Treat yourself or a loved one to one of my writing workshops for the holidays. After New Years, the workshops will be closed to registration.

Merry Christmas!

2 thoughts on “Who Should Greenlight What Gets Published Or Consumed?

  1. Zachary Ricks

    “Only when we create some type of master system, where every single book is catalogued, reviewed by a singular standard, and made available to everyone will we have a fair, useful, and ethical system. Until then, we’re only as informed as the books we know exist, let alone have time to read.”

    Nuts. Balderdash. This is exactly the wrong way to think about the issue.
    One-size-fits-all book reviews are applying assembly-line thinking to what is increasingly an internet-enabled custom-built world. Stories are different. Readers are different. They have different tastes, different preferences. What appeals to me doesn’t appeal to my wife, and what appeals to us doesn’t necessarily appeal to my daughter, and that will be different from what appeals to someone else because of differences in culture, upbringing, politics, age, family, religion, and a slew of other factors too numerous to mention.
    Looking for “qualified people to inform us of the books that are worthy of our attention” is outsourcing something that we most appropriately do ourselves. And I’d love to hear the author’s thoughts on the terms “qualified people” (what makes them qualified? What standard are we using there? Who determines what the qualifications are? How does someone become qualified?) and “worthy of our attention” (What do you mean by worthy? What are the criteria for ‘book-worthiness’? Who makes that measurement? Ah yes, ‘qualified people’.) People who have held themselves up as “qualified” over the last few years have had a bad run of holding up works that I found to be… not worthy. But who am I going to believe? “Qualified people” or my lying eyes?
    The ability and means of communication and the ability to create works of entertainment or education or anything else are increasingly available. Individuals regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic status (not 100%, but increasingly more people) can create books, plays, and we’re starting to see people branch into video.
    Asking for people to curtail or control our choices (“bring back the gatekeepers” indeed) seems like exactly the wrong move.

    Reply
  2. Zachary Ricks

    GAH! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

    The blog post STARTS with “So what does it mean if the so-called experts – the book publishers, big movie houses, and giant record labels — stink at predicting commercial success?”

    And it FINISHES with “We need qualified people to inform us of the books that are worthy of our attention. (Lament that reviewing everything is virtually impossible goes HERE.) Only when we create some type of master system, where every single book is catalogued, reviewed by a singular standard, and made available to everyone will we have a fair, useful, and ethical system.”

    GAH! Qualified people… need to tell… but so many books, impossible for one source… but only when every single book is reviewed will we have an ethical system!

    Reply

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