If money wasn’t a factor, I’d change the book industry

If money wasn’t a life requirement in this world, I would set a path that stretches myself into dreams I know I’m way capable of just by the fact that I’m driven. My inspiration? Teens.

If you have drive you can accomplish anything and if you have confidence in your skills, you will accomplish anything. If money wasn’t a factor, I’d live in New York or LA and work at a book publishing company. I’d commit my life to work and building myself into a successful, ethical and wonderful businesswoman who raises the ceilings on a company that fits my passion and vision. I’d work with a team who trusts and looks to me for what passionate work looks like. I’d teach them by example just like I do at school with my journalism students; I’d show them that success is teamwork and to be a solid team you need to form a type of family. Yet not a family that takes away from time with their real one. I’d respect their vision for their own personal lives and understand when kids are sick and when a second honeymoon is required. My expectations would be high, undoubtedly, but my appreciation for them would exceed everything.

If money wasn’t a factor, I’d publish all the books that move me or my team, and those that would move the teens who struggle each day to simply survive mentally. I’d find perfect strategies to bring books to teens in an affordable way and listen to the teens for their responses. Why don’t book publishers reach out to teens for young adult literature? And if they do, why not publicly, so we know who really approves of the book? Why not send ARCs to teens and have them write reviews?

Well, because an author gets more books sold just by putting famous authors’ one-sentence reviews on the covers. I bet more teens would read if they saw an average Joe or Jane on the cover revealing their love and emotional connection with the characters and plot. Why aren’t they talking to teens? Even though they aren’t the greatest at making life decisions yet, they know what they like and deep down, they know what they need – mostly consistent love and human connection. Bring those characters off the shelves, show them to them face-to-face, connection-to-connection.

Young adult literature is all I read because for me as an adult, it’s an escape from adulthood, from the bills (again money-based), from work stress, and relationship decisions. Teens live in a dramatic world, trust me, but they’re dynamic, always changing, always growing and seeking connection. Yet they are the most ignored and judged demographic. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I highly doubt a 15-year-old looking for a book to relate to his father-in-jail situation really cares that XYZ famous author rates this book five stars and says “It’s better than his competitors”. That 15-year-old young man is looking for help, release, and relationships with people, fictional or not. He needs that. Why isn’t that the purpose of publishing? Why isn’t it to bring worlds to readers no matter how much they cost? Why do budgets at various sized publishing houses dictate what art the world reads?

This is all an ideology, I’m fully aware, but this stems back to my original point, money dictates everything whether it be a budget or the impression from someone famous (someone who has money), and the world wonders why people are hostile, hateful, and judgmental in business or otherwise.

What would you do if money wasn’t a factor?

I’d bring more books teens need in their life to the forefront and work hard to lead a team who feels the same way. We’d work hard for the funding and for the kids and for the oftentimes unbearableness of being a teen. People should be embracing this audience, not assuming publishers know what’s best based off of numbers and what Nicholas Sparks says about an author. Ask the kids, trust the kids, invest in them… and I’ll bet anything that more kids will read and have a better outlook on their situations. When someone fights for kids’ best interests, they commit to success so much easier, more consistently, and with more passion. They turn into confident leaders with drive.

Give me that job.

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1 Comment

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One response to “If money wasn’t a factor, I’d change the book industry

  1. Johanna Otero

    Interesting post, Jennifer. Increasingly, book publishers ARE looking for approval from real teens. Galleys are generally circulated months before a book’s release date in order to get real world reviews on sites like Goodreads, where kids can post their own feelings and reactions to the work. It’s always amazing to get a great review from Kirkus or School Library Journal, but the kind of praise I love best comes when real kids are touched by a book I’ve made. That’s what keeps me working in publishing. That’s the magic.

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