I do wonder if our over-emphasis of the publishing side of this business has caused us to forget to learn how to actually create the documents we are publishing. In other words, blogs, journal articles, writing organizations, workshops and conferences seem to be focusing so much on how to get those books out to the public, or how to "do it yourself" that we are missing the key ingredient. Do we know how to write a story?
What am I seeing?
- Novels the length of 3 single title books, or on the other end, novels that might only reach the level of a novella, and yet the authors seem to think this is a normal size
- Query letters (both snail mail and e-query) that demonstrate nothing of basic business letter format or content.
- Stories lacking basic elements such as theme.
- Stories that don't seem to have a command of those basic elements such as the balance between dialogue and narration.
- Grammar and spelling issues beyond imaginable
- Plots and story ideas that would never sell to the general market.
- Authors who don't even know what genre they are writing.
I have to say, I am very proud of my authors here at Greyhaus. They all take the time to continually go back and learn new things about their writing and what to do to improve. They work to master some of the new techniques with the writing craft. Yes, they do also find new ways to get market, but they also focus on those basics.
I understand the argument many organizations make as to why they are not pushing the basics and focusing on the other side of the business. They claim, "But this is what the people are asking for." Why are they asking for it? Because there is an underlying message being sent that publishing is all about the marketing and the platform and not the writing. Yes, I get that this is circular. Presenters talk about it, writers ask more questions, therefore there are more presenters talking about the same thing.
But, cycles can be broken.
I am not calling for ignoring education on how to market books. What I am calling for is the increase of some of those basic skills. I do believe, if we can start writing those great books we grew up with again, we might bring in a few more readers, and find more success for our writers.