Publishing: Fortune Over Soul

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I feel as though the publishing industry has shifted towards publishing books based on the author’s popularity rather than the literary merit of the writing itself. As a child, my friends and family would constantly talk about the newest bestsellers, insisting that I had to read every single one. Magazines and talk shows were always competing with each other to cover the best books and authors, obsessing over stories so popular it wasn’t long before they’d become movies or TV shows.

However, it feels like the only books I hear about now are written by celebrities. I can’t remember the last time I saw an author who was legitimately dedicated to the craft of writing on TV because, for whatever reason, celebrities writing novels are being equated to professional authors writing novels. 

Publishing has become an industry dedicated to making money. In order to make money, they need people to buy their books, which means publishing what the media likes. But it wasn’t always this way; when publishers first began business, their job was to find good writing and print it. Now, the quality of writing almost becomes secondary to the platform and popularity of the writer. With a strong following on social media, the company will be able to guarantee readers, which means taking a bigger risk when publishing a book by a lesser-known author.

To be fair, the amount of people choosing to read books has made a significant decline over the last decade. This is in part due to technology and the many mindless activities that can replace the time and effort spent reading. However, some of the most popular books when I was younger weren’t ones that required a lot of mental energy. Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a bestseller for quite some time, and I remember being able to finish the entire book in an hour or two. The same goes for a lot of other bestsellers, even ones targeted towards adults. Good books don’t require fancy language, they just need to have good content. 

If this is the case, one might think that the publishing industry would continue to publish quality books and keep their readers entertained. But the sad reality is that because of social media, it’s easier to publish books written by an author with an immediate audience. And if a publishing company has the opportunity to make money, even at the expense of the quality of a book, they are going to choose the former. 

It is for this reason that going forward as a writer, it is important to me that I work with smaller publishing companies that are still dedicated to the craft of book publishing. I plan to become an author of many short stories, poems, children’s books, and novels, and if I do become famous, I want to represent a publishing company that values quality over money. I hope that will bring hope to up-and-coming writers who do not yet have fame or fortune.