The NBA and NFL lockouts remind me why I love sports but hate the way the pros operate. Every bailout, strike, contract negotiation, free agent signing, and stadium-naming deal reaffirms professional sports are more like corporate America. The fan or customer is an afterthought and taken for granted. If only the fans could muster the ability to override their addiction and boycott for a long enough time period to reassert who is in charge, we’d see a very different sports landscape.
In thinking about sports and how it mirrors life at times, I wonder how book publishing can mirror pro sports. What if
- Authors formed a union, like the players, and dictated terms to the publishers?
- Authors could be named to annual All-Star teams or named as Hall of Famers for their career contributions?
- Authors were applauded by a sports-arena-sized crowd?
- Authors only had a 4–5-year career the way most athletes do?
- Authors wore uniforms and sold merchandise with their name on it?
- Books had sponsors and advertisers filling every other page?
- There were daily television casts dedicated to books the way networks cover sports?
- There were statistical data to rate an author’s book, other than total sales, similar to all the stats used to rate players and teams?
- People booed authors at a signing the way fans curse at ballplayers from the stands?
- Celebrity gossip columnists kept track of which publishers and editors are sleeping around the way they track the conquests of athletes?
- An annual awards show for authors was televised like the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys?
The truth is authors are not treated like star athletes, celebrities, or politicians. They struggle to get published, to be read, and to be appreciated. Sure, some books become best-sellers and gain some fame and small riches, but by and large, millions of gifted writers conclude the year wishing they received more media attention, more money, and a wider acceptance as a writer.
Many writers write because it’s their gift and their passion and they find reward in knowing they penned what they believe is a good book. But every writer wants the applause, the critical praise, and the validation. Some even want to change the world.
So when you watch the Super Bowl or World Series this year, imagine, just for a moment, the players on the field are writers. They are you and everyone is watching and cheering. Stand up and take a bow. It may be the only recognition you will ever get.
Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.