Being able to write only one book per year
I was in the selection committee of an important book competition on Nov. 20.
During the event, one of my fellow jury members spoke about an interesting practice he saw years ago in China during his visit as a publisher.
Our friend said that in China authors are only allowed to publish a maximum of one book per year. Due to this restriction, the books written are often as thick as a brick. What’s more, copyrights in China are typically paid per line.
It sounds reasonable for a country with a population of 1.5 billion to take a precaution like this. On the one hand it is a restriction on the freedom of publishing. But on the other hand, readers are able to get a good insight into a book’s content as they are fewer books over the year.
What’s more, authors have to work slowly and thus work harder on their book (even though one year is a very short period of time for many authors to complete a book).
Today, across the world almost anyone can have their books published. If one publishing house does not see it as good enough to be published, there are others that are happy to step in.
There is also the growing phenomenon of authors self-publishing to consider. But here the problem of distribution comes in. If a book does not enter the bookstores, it will not be able to reach the reader.
Publishing houses have selection committees, advisors and editors. They evaluate all the books that they will publish very carefully.
Let me tell you my reflections regarding the books that tend to be sent to book competitions based on my own experiences.
Awards can only be given to books that enter the competition. As a result, readers often react against the award given to a book, questioning whether it really deserved to win. But often people forget that not every new book comes to the table of the jury.
This year, for the first time, the International Book Awards started a new practice, employing a selection style practiced in most Western award ceremonies.
This method involves the selection committee coming together to prepare a preliminary nominee list.
This nominee list will be published on Dec. 1 in the International Book magazine.
We will select the book to be awarded the top prize later, after coming together for another meeting.
In this way, readers can also hear about other books that are nominated for awards. Even if these nominated books do not ultimately win, readers are able to make a selection from among them.
I also want to make a reminder to those who plan to enter competitions.
When you decide to enter a competition, first look at the history of that award. Your debut book, for example, will not have much of a chance in a competition where recognized literary masters tend to be awarded.
There are many awards specifically crafted for debut books, so new authors should always think about applying for them first. In the future, you may also join the list of masters.
But either way, do make sure to apply for awards if you want to get ahead. They can have a significant effect on your career.