With hundreds of thousands of new books published every year in the U.S., very few are on topics never previously covered.
In the Christian publishing world, a quick glimpse back in history will reveal similar patterns of behavior and spiritual need no matter when you decide to stop your time machine.
While many things change, some never change…like people.
Look to Scripture as the starting point. Throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments are conflicts between races, social classes, issues between men and women and problems rooted in money, sex or power, or all three in combination.
Pride came before the fall six thousand years ago as well as today. And it will still be coming tomorrow and next year.
Marriages collapsed one hundred generations ago because of infidelity and other relationship-fracturing events.
Governments have always had corrupt and virtuous leaders.
As an example how the current racial tensions in the U.S. are not new (unfortunately), here’s a little tidbit from almost one hundred years ago.
July 1917 to be exact.
In a complicated mix of festering racial and labor tension, thousands of white residents of East St. Louis, Illinois marched into the predominantly black areas of town and started to riot. Entire neighborhoods were set ablaze and white persons proceeded to cut fire hoses to prevent firefighters from extinguishing the flames.
If that weren’t bad enough, they started shooting the black residents who tried to escape the inferno. Estimates put the death toll between 50 and 200.
The more you read about this event, it is a glimpse of literal hell on earth.
Often, authors think they must come up with an angle or a creative topic for a book never before addressed, when in reality, the world needs a steady stream of messages on the same topics that have been published over and over again.
Entire ministries or movements have been sustained around core issues as:
- Fractured relationships
- Racial reconciliation
- God-centered marriage
- God-centered parenting
- Life not turning out how we expected
- Coping with tragedy
- Living a God-centered life
- The poor
- Genesis 1:1
- John 3:16
- Issues covered in the Sermon on the Mount
- Issues covered by Jesus in various parables
- The first commandment
- The second commandment
- The third commandment
- The fourth commandment
- The fifth commandment
The topic is actually a small part of a book. The greater components are who writes it and how well it is written.
Spending too much time on finding a never-before-covered book topic can make an author think that writing quality is not important. And spending little or no effort developing an author platform will be a stumbling block for an agent, publisher and honestly, a reader who looks for a credible, recognizable authority to read, whatever the topic of the book.
In general, book publishing is about singing a familiar song with a new voice.
Sure, there are topics for books that were never part of our collective conversation not many years ago.
But all of the issues confronting our 21st century world are rooted in the same sin that drove Adam and Eve out of Eden.
Maybe we aren’t as different from those who came before us after all. And maybe the problems of this world and the solution to those problems aren’t really as complex as we think.
Maybe what it takes to encourage another Christ-follower to be a growing disciple isn’t so unique and different in 2016 versus say, 1916.
Maybe millennial readers have the same need to grapple with Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount as the hundreds of generations that came before or will come.
A creative, well-written book about an issue or subject covered thousands of times before still wins in the competitive publishing world.