This could be Part Two to last week’s post, but I didn’t intend it that way. It just happened.
Have you noticed how many things in our lives are overly dramatic?
A generation or two ago when “news” was delivered a half-hour here and there and TV, radio and newspapers dominated, dramatic stories were covered and some of them were “manufactured” stories for ratings or circulation purposes. But in general, events best observed over the long-term were treated with less drama.
And then along came cable television, the internet, social media and camera phones and we started making drama where none previously existed. Now everything is dramatic.
“Oh my gosh, stop the church service, I just got a video of a guy pulling old tree trunks out of a river!”
“Will Bob and Betty have budget for their kitchen remodel or will they be cooking on an outdoor campfire? Will their children need to live with grandma in Montana if the pergola is not finished in time? Find out after these commercial messages from Home Depot!”
“Hey everyone, here’s a picture of my lunch!”
Things that heretofore were everyday parts of real life are now high drama in reality TV programs. And when high drama wears thin and viewers grow weary, we turn to mega-high manufactured drama. I think that is why Youtube was built.
Throw a bunch of poisonous snakes into the basement of that house we are rehabbing and then you got real fun.
Weather was once quick info about tomorrow and only where you live. Now we have the Weather Channel and track the long-term forecast for places thousands of miles from us and discuss at length how it will affect our lives in two months based on computer models.
Cancel that picnic in six weeks. That weather system over western China looks pretty bad.
The stock market used to be a place where you invested your money for long-term gain and looked at the performance of your investments once in a while in the newspaper.
Now, multiple financial TV channels create drama by treating it like a ride at Disneyland. A stock might have gone up 5% during the day, but when it was down 5% earlier that morning commentators were talking about who needed to be fired at the company for their mismanagement. Oh, wait, the stock is up now. Never mind.
I think once we started all this manufactured drama, it affected all parts of life and we feel the need to create drama everywhere. Even in book publishing.
It’s called impatience.
Only God has the power to make something from nothing.
Impatience is manufactured out of thin air so humans must be pretty powerful as well. (Insert appropriate emoticon here depending on how that last sentence affected you)
Publishers who work to publish a book for a year and then give it 90 days to either succeed or fail are guilty of this.
Authors who treat writing books like playing the lottery rather than an ongoing developmental process are likewise creating drama where none previously existed.
Publishing books is an example of long-term development, like the weather and finance, but many people treat it like it was reality television. Combining some publishers’ unwillingness to develop authors long-term with authors’ desire to be published, famous and wealthy before the end of the year and we have a toxic brew of ingredients that have never worked well together.
I have been guilty of sometimes being critical of indie publishing, but certainly there is an aspect of impatience that drives some of it, but not all.
Publishing impatience is a recipe for disappointment. There is nothing fast and immediate about a book. Impatience is manufactured drama just like a guy walking into a pawnshop with his comic book collection and needing money for a vacation.
Some current best-selling authors did not do well with their first book published years earlier. Not to mention their sales in the first 90 days. The publisher and author exercised patience and it worked out well in the long run.
Some authors write and work for decades before a first book is published.
Some authors are more famous and sell better after they die. (I am exercising my gift of discouragement here)
Some publishers and authors give up too soon, but there is no way to prove that conclusively. (That was supposed to be a joke. Lighten up!)
Book publishing is becoming less and less a process of committed long-term development and more about immediate performance. And authors, publishers and yes, agents are part of that trend. (Kudos to those who see the long-term and show patience where necessary)
Some authors need multiple books to get their sales going. Knowing which authors fit that model is more a function of “artistic wisdom” than scientific research and makes book publishing interesting.
Authors need to view their writing with more patience as well and leave the real drama for the story they are writing.