Yesterday I posted an important excerpt from Thomas McCormack’s book, The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist. In the excerpt, Mr. McCormack dismantled the way theme is commonly taught in schools and colleges, and I urged readers to forward his essay to others so that we might collectively stop this abuse.
Today I’m going to explain why this is not simply a goofy idea but actually important. By which I of course mean that it involves making money.
If you remember my post referencing the 90-9-1 Principle, you’ll recall that 90% of the people interested in anything are passive about their interest. They want to watch movies, not make them. They want to watch cooking shows, not cook anything. They want to read books, not write them.
In the publishing business, this 90% is variously known as The Audience or Our Customers. Yes, writers read other writers’ books, and editors read books other than the one’s they’re editing. But when it comes to the people who buy and read books and generally provide the medium with a return on investment, that’s the 90% who are not interested in writing books or even in analyzing books. They just want to read.
So it stands to reason that booksellers and book writers would want as many such readers as they can get, and they would want those readers predisposed to enjoy the process of reading, as opposed to, say, hating it. Which is why the way theme is often taught to students is a serious question, and one that deserves addressing. [ Read more ]