Tag Archives: social media

The Book Landfills

517900257_2515938cd4_bYou’ve probably heard someone say that reading is on the decline. Kids aren’t reading like they used to. Neither are adults. Because of this, the literary industry has suffered. Though their monetary losses can be large (and are usually made up for by their bestsellers, think Harry Potter series), the worse impact is on people.

Reading expands the mind. You imagine the world that a piece of literature presents. You extrapolate from that world. Your brain is active when you read. It’s passive when watching TV, which is one of the major reasons for the reduction in reading.

In Reading at Risk, results from a 17,000 individual Survey of Public Participation in the Arts were presented. As a meaningful activity, reading has decreased, especially among young people. Amidst television, Netflix, and all of social media, literature is increasingly taking a backseat.

I’m not a technophobe. I’m a Netflix binge-watching fiend, and I tend to check Facebook once a day. I realize these activities impede on my reading. I have multiple piles of books I’ve yet to read, and while I normally polish off a book a week, this last novel has taken me about a month. Trying to watch all of “Scrubs” before it was booted from Netflix played a part. (At least most of my time watching “Scrubs” was on my spin bike.)

However, as a typically avid reader and as a writer, I find it unsettling how much literature has faded. Without literature it’s much easier to remain ignorant, and with ignorance comes a repetition of mistakes, a lack of imagination and innovation, and less understanding of the world, including other cultures and organisms.

From the survey, there were ten key findings:

  1. “The Percentage of adult Americans reading literature has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years.”

Nowadays, less than half of American adults read.

  1. “The decline in literary reading parallels a decline in total book reading.”

For this point, literary writing is separated from more commercial books. Both literary books and commercial novels are being read less, however literary books rate of reading are decreasing more rapidly than commercial novels.

  1. “The rate of decline in literary reading is accelerating.”

More people are reading less at a faster rate than twenty years ago.

  1. “Women read more literature than men do, but literary reading by both groups is declining at significant rates.”

While many people would love to blame the education system on the declining literary reading rate, it’s more accurate to blame people themselves. Individuals used to read James Joyce, Henry David Thoreau, and William Faulkner for pleasure. In today’s world, the number of people who recognize those names is diminishing. Added to that, an increasing number of light and shallow commercial novels are being written. There’s a misconception, or perhaps it’s no longer a misconception, that peoples’ attention spans are too short for the deeper meaning novels, those books that give you a headache as you attempt to comprehend them. People want a fast read.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics.”

The decrease in literature does not discriminate.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among all education levels.”

Though those who are more educated read more than those who are less educated, the reading rate is diminishing across the board.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among all age groups.”

From ages eighteen to over seventy-five, again there’s no discrimination.

I have to wonder how adults reading less effect children. Parents have the responsibility to teach their kids how to read. If parents spend little or no time reading, how can they instill the necessity of reading in their children?

  1. “The steepest decline in literary reading is in the youngest age groups.”

Young adults went from reading the most literature to reading the least.

  1. “The decline in literary reading foreshadows an erosion in cultural and civic participation.”

People who read are more likely to be involved in charity, sports, politics, and art.

  1. “The decline in reading correlates with increased participation in a variety of electronic media, including the Internet, video games, and portable digital devices.”

Having so many alternatives, shifts peoples’ attentions away from reading. Just like with trying to get published, having so much noise out there makes it difficult for people to focus on any one thing.

Based on these findings, it’s easy to see a dismal future. If the rapid rate of reading decline continues, reading as a pastime may vanish. However, despite these findings, I have hope for the literary world. More people are receiving some sort of postsecondary education than in the past, and unlike the fades of social media, books tend to last. Maybe not the newest novel in a twenty-some book detective series, but the great books. Plus, anytime a bestseller rises among the flood of literature, people begin to read more.

Most importantly, the future is unpredictable. We can try to figure out what’s going to happen down the line, but ultimately, we don’t know until we get there. Who knows? Maybe reading will make a massive comeback.

What do you think about the decline in reading?

(Photo courtesy of Patrick Correia.)

5 Ideas to Support an Author’s New Novel

Everyone can help support the release of an author’s new novel. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Small things help too. And authors will appreciate the help, especially debut authors.

  1. Buy the book. Obvious? Yeah, but there are some people who’d pirate books online. Buying the book helps with sales statistics and with getting that author a royalty. Also, if you’re interested in a soon-to-be-released novel, pre-order it. The more books are pre-ordered, the more attention publishers tend to give them.
  2. Review the book. Book reviews range from a few sentences to multiple paragraphs, sometimes pages. Read the book, write a review, and put it up on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. (You have to add your review to Amazon and Goodreads separately.) Heck, even if you just choose a number of stars to rate it, that’s better than nothing. Because, on some level, book ratings and reviews affect us as readers. For me, there are certain people on Goodreads whose reviews do influence whether or not I choose to read a novel (We’ve got very similar tastes, so if they didn’t like it, I most likely won’t. But if they loved it, I’ll definitely add it to my wish list).
  3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage. Social media is here and it’s staying, so use it. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Google plus. Pinterest. Blogs. Spread the word. Let people know you liked a novel. Word of mouth is really important. It makes a difference in whether or not a book is successful.
  4. Press the “Like” Button. The more “likes” a book receives, the more it appears when someone is searching for a similar title.
  5. Set Up Connections. If you know someone in the publishing or media world, help out a debut author. This one applies more to friends than total strangers, but if you read an author’s new novel and loved it, don’t be shy with contacting them. Authors love making connections.

Any ideas to add?

7 Things You Should Know About Agents

Agents may seem like an elite society, one that’s closed off to the general public, but they aren’t. They’re very busy and have individual interests, and will only select novels they enjoy and think will sell, but they are looking for that next novel. Here’s some things you should know:

  1. Complete manuscript. Make sure your manuscript is complete before you query an agent. If an agent requests a full manuscript, it’d be a major bummer to not have one ready. It’s rare for an agent to even request a full, so if and when it happens, be ready.
  2. Do your homework. Know what the agent represents before you send them your query. If they’re into comedy, don’t send them a dark and gritty story that has no comic relief. Also, try to keep up to date with what agents want. What they were looking for last year, they probably aren’t still looking for this year
  3. No fees. You don’t pay agents. They look at your submission, decide if they’re interested, and then choose to either represent you or not. They get a slice of your book deal. If an agent asks for a reading fee, don’t give it to them. In fact, don’t continue to contact them. They’re either a scam artist or are really bad at their job.
  4. Be professional. Your query needs to look good. No spelling errors. No grammatical issues. Make sure to include word count, genre, book title (in all caps), and a way to contact you. And don’t send an angry email to an agent when they reject you (and if you are like most people, you will get rejected). It’s not personal. The agent doesn’t know you, and they know very little about your book. They just weren’t interested in what they read.
  5. The Reminder. Sometimes you’ll send out your query and hear nothing from an agent. Most agents will give an estimated response time (i.e.- 6-8 weeks). If you don’t hear anything from them in that time frame, send a very concise and polite reminder email. (Waiting a week or two after the estimated response time doesn’t hurt either.) However, if you don’t hear anything after that, then it’s time to write the agent off.
  6. Social Media. In today’s world, social media is important, whether you want it to be or not. Agents are on social media, which is a good thing. You can follow them on Twitter, see what they up to in agent interviews, find out how to query them via their website, and find out if they’re going to be at any upcoming writing conferences. Also, get active on social media. It’s very unusual for an author to not be an active member of today’s social media scene.
  7. Agents aren’t required. You don’t need an agent to get published. You can self publish or go straight to a publishing house (though this is more for small publishers). Agents may make your life easier (I said may), but you won’t be ostracized for getting published without an agent.

All in all, the relationship between an agent and an author is give and take. If the relationship isn’t synergetic, then that agent may not be right for you.