The study of communication through various methods fascinates me. Some media share audiences with other media and others have very select audiences. Each person consumes content differently. Those in education know students do not all learn at the same speed using the same tools. Fortunately, good teachers recognize those differences and adjust their methods.
In the 1970s and 80s, educator Neil Fleming developed the VARK model of learning theory. It identifies the four kinds of learning styles:
Visual – prefer pictures, images, maps, charts to learn
Auditory – prefer listening to presentations and interacting verbally
Reading/Writing – prefer to translate things into words and essays
Kinesthetic – prefer to learn by hands-on activity
Over time, many scholars asserted the above list is nothing more than preferences and not “baked” into people. I am not the expert in all this, but I assume everyone is a mix of all four, with one or two being dominant, or even one more effective in certain situations.
If you have ever taken a strengths test or spiritual-gift test, you know there are one or more items dominant in each person. Same with learning styles, or preferences.
Regardless, a book is not the only way to communicate. It is just the way the “R” preference people in the VARK acronym prefer things. Make a book into an audiobook, and capture the “A” crowd.
If there is one observation I can make after reviewing thousands of proposals from aspiring authors, it is that many of the books should be some other form of media and not a book.
The message is good, the writing is good; but it should be a series of videos, articles, or podcasts or presented in person as a workshop or seminar.
Books are not the default media for all messages, nor are they at the top of some mythical hierarchy of media.
Sure, books need to contain significant thoughts; compelling information; and lengthy, carefully developed premises or plots. That’s why some books have 75,000 words and some articles have 750.
One of the filters I use to evaluate a book proposal is “Should this be in book form?” Sometimes, the response is no.
This issue could be one element or reason why many authors have a difficult time developing a marketing platform. They want to hold back all the “good stuff” for the book, when it is precisely the material needed to build the platform.
Most writers are not multi-media creators. Some are not as comfortable speaking to a group as they are writing pages of text for a book. But the issue remains: Not all messages need to end up in a book.
Books are held in high esteem in Western culture. Great authors are revered. Being a published author is a goal for many people. But once in a while, a quick media-selection assessment is healthy as we decide what media is best to communicate important messages.
Often, the conclusion is something other than a book, especially when the writer focuses on what is best for the consumer of their work.
Attention spans shorten and flee;
that, today, is how things are,
so I’ll film me reading poetry
and thus become a TikTok star.
And I will need aesthetic style
to bring them in, to draw the eye;
should I recite while sitting on a stile,
a rustic? Or maybe standing by
a shining bright Ferrari,
implying it’s my own,
with a beard uncoiffed and hairy
(hear Barb’s off-camera groan!),
and flash a grin at every pause,
truly rebel with no cause?
Thank you for this. I have been asking my Guide for help in choosing how to publish (or not) the second edition of my Hope Knows books. And this has given me the start of a new plan.
When I homeschooled my youngest daughter, Mary, I realized she was an auditory learner. That proved to be a great thing, because when she first started college, she called me all upset. “I can’t study. I can’t remember things!”
I said, “You’re an auditory learner. Read your notes out loud so you can hear them. And if your roommate is there and has time, have her read them to you.”
That worked for her.
It’s good to know how you learn best. 🙂
Such a great post. The number of times I read (or listen) to books, even books by well-known authors, and think, “This could’ve been a pamphlet” is amazing. A good reminder for us all!
Thank you for one of the clearest explanations I have read.