I have, yesterday, published an historical novel; no-one knows it’s there. I do not know how many thousand hours work went into writing that novel, that’s not the point. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t had something (several things actually) novel – not to say utterly original – to tell the World.
The problem is I’m not alone, any casual trawl through Amazon will give you countless authors and titles of which you’ve never heard – I have no doubt no less deserving than my own effort. What is the public missing? And what can be done about it?
The publishing ‘industry’ has responded by not even attempting to sell books, but merely attaching books to names already known to the public. There are many comments on the Internet to this effect; the point is publishers, distributors and retailers are unlikely to do anything to remedy this situation. It is no good pointing out to them, they would sell more varied, more interesting and better books, consequently making more money, if they stopped selling names and started selling books.
Any individual, self-publishers’ organisation or authors’ help group is simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. I believe they mostly mean well, but they haven’t the organisation or presence in the public eye to make much difference. It is, dear reader of this plea, up to the mass of humble bloggers, who care about the written word, to do something about it.
Please don’t write off the proposal I’m about to make as bumptious or naïve (maybe it’s both) because the present situation discourages talent, wastes valuable work and promotes the shallow and meretricious; in short, something must be done.
What is to be done:
If bloggers come together in sufficient numbers, an organisation can be set up to review ALL published books. The reviews may be partial, inexpert, incomplete – it does not matter – what the public needs is a guide as to what ordinary readers might like or not like.
These reviews are to be posted on a free public site for all internet users; a site to be promoted as widely as possible to contributors and readers.
The data base created may be enormous, it can be refined by key words. The criteria for like or not like may be arbitrary, but “any publicity is good publicity”. It might be controversial, controversy with the book trade may be a very good thing.
No doubt the creation of Wikipedia looked daunting before it was done, now it’s a far greater resource than any produced by conventional publication.
As a lawyer I had great faith in the jury system. Ordinary people’s willingness to apply common sense and good judgement, defying the court to do so on occasion, is part of the bedrock of civilisation. Sometimes juries get it wrong, with errors in both directions, but their justice is always better than that of governments or big corporations. And so it will be here – on bringing interesting books to the attention of the reading public.
Bloggers, this is a crusade.
There are wiser heads than mine, more knowledgeable and better resourced too. But then, it’s the “wise and the good” who brought us to the situation we are in. Rise up against the names sold in the supermarkets, along with the groceries, give the public the full range of now unknown books.
I would like to hear from you, each and every one of you; I would like you to join together, respect and empower the public, give everyone a choice in what we read.