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Are 50 Page Books a Good Idea?

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In Book Publishing, Less Is The New More
by Michael Levin

 

The hottest book publishing trend today: less is the new more.

“The first time I saw a 73-page ‘book’ offered on Amazon, I was outraged,” says New York Times best selling author Michael Levin.  “But I thought about how shredded the American attention span is.  And I felt like Cortez staring at the Pacific.”

The trend in books today, Harry Potter notwithstanding, is toward books so short that in the past no self-respecting publisher—or author—would even have called them books.  But today, shortened attention spans call for shorter books.

Levin blames smartphones and social media for what he calls “a worldwide adult epidemic of ADH…ooh, shiny!”

“Brain scientists tell us our brain chemistry has been transformed by short-burst communication such as texting, Tweeting, and Facebook posts,” Levin adds.  “Long magazine articles have given way to 600-word blog posts.  And doorstop-size books have been replaced by minibooks.”

This sudden change in attention spans changed the way Levin approaches ghostwriting.  “Even five years ago, we aimed for 250-page books.  Today we advise our business clients to do 50-page minibooks to meet impatient readers’ expectations for speedy delivery of information.”

Levin, who runs the ghostwriting firm BusinessGhost.com and was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, says that people are looking for leadership disguised as a book.  “Today,” he asserts, “people don’t want you to prove your assertions.  They just want to know that you have legitimate answers to their questions and that they can trust you.  If you can’t get buy-in with 50 pages today, you won’t get it in 250.”

The trend toward shorter books caused Levin to offer what he calls the “Book-Of-The-Quarter Club,” which creates four 50-page hardcover minibooks a year for BusinessGhost’s clients.  “This allows them to address four different major issues, or four different sets of prospects, and provides quarterly opportunities for marketing events,” Levin says.

How short will books eventually run?  

“Can you say ‘haiku’?” Levin asks.  “We’re waiting for a three-line, 17 syllable book.  It could happen.”

About Michael Levin
Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc., has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became “Model Behavior,” an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week. His new minibook, “The Financial Advisor's Dilemma,” teaches how to create trust and distinctiveness in the highly competitive marketplace.

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I consider myself vindicated.  My writing style has always been sparse and free of  a lot of drawn-out details. I really do believe less is more.

 

Unless a thick book is very compelling, I feel like I'm doing  authors a favor if I hang in there, while they indulge their long-windedness, assuming that I'm hanging on to their every word.  And with the glut of self published books out there, in many cases, the worse the book, the more redundant it is. 

 

On the down side, the world is really in a hurry nowadays, anxious to get to - where????

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PEACE & GHETTOHEAT®! I GET QUERY SUBMISSIONS OF 3-CHAPTER SAMPLES HAVING MORE THAN 50 PAGES, THAT ALONE SHOULD SPEAK VOLUMES TO THE QUESTION ASKED. PERSONALLY, I CRINGE WHEN EVEN MAJORS RELEASE NOVELS WITH LESS THAN 200 PAGES! IT'S ABOUT QUALITY ALWAYS WITH ME, NEVER QUANTITY, YET A BOOK MUST BE SUBSTANTIAL IN PAGE COUNT. I LIKE TO PRODUCE BOOKS WITH A 304 PAGE COUNT, YET I'VE ALSO DONE ONE WITH 240 PAGES--THE LEAST WAS 224, YET NOVEL ALSO MADE ESSENCE BESTSELLER (I EARLIER DECIDED TO MAKE IT A 2-PART SERIES). THE ONLY REASON I PRODUCED IT AS SUCH AS ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT WAS DOUBLED THE AMOUNT, & AS A PUBLISHER DOING PRINT RUNS, KNEW IT WOULDN'T BE COST EFFICIENT TO PRINT IT AS PRESENTED TO ME, EVEN WITH INTENSE EDITING. THERE'S A SCIENCE TO THE PRINTING PROCESS & EACH PAGE MUST COUNT. EVER SEEN BOOKS WITH BLANK PAGES IN THE BACK? IT'S BECAUSE PUBLISHER DIDN'T DO HIS OR HER HOMEWORK, THE PRINTER TELLS YOU THAT IT'S RAN IN SIGNATURE PAGES WITH COUNTS OF 2, 4 OR 8, DEPENDING WHICH PRINTER BEING USED.

AS FOR PUBLISHERS/WRITERS RUSHING, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN GOAL/PURPOSE. IF ONE IS SOLELY DOING IT FOR THE MONEY, IT'S USUALLY REFLECTED IN THE AMOUNT OF TITLE RELEASES PUBLISHED BY SAID MENTIONED PER SEASON, AS WELL AS HOW IT'S DISCOUNTED SEVERELY WITH RETAILERS & STREET VENDORS. THE NUMBERS NEVER LIE.... I MYSELF ALWAYS GO FAR AWAY FROM THE HERD: I MAXIMIZE OPPOSE TO BURNING OUT MYSELF & TALENT WITH NEW RELEASES MONTH AFTER MONTH AFTER MONTH! HOW CAN A BOOK BE MAXIMIZED IF IT HASN'T BEEN FULLY PROMOTED OR EVEN SOLD THROUGHOUT ALL MARKETS, IF MULTIPLE TITLES ARE FOCUSED ON AT ONCE? THIS IS WHY I TAKE MY TIME...THE READERS WILL WAIT IF THEY ENJOY WORKS COMING FROM A PARTICULAR PUBLISHER/AUTHOR. I HAVEN'T PUBLISHED A NEW TITLE SINCE FALL 2008...MAXIMIZING! YET HAVE NEWER ONES COMING THIS YEAR! SO AGAIN, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY AT GHETTOHEAT®, I'VE ALREADY EXPLAINED THAT IN OTHER DISCUSSIONS.

FROM A READERS PERSPECTIVE, A BOOK WITH SOLELY 50 PAGES WILL GET OVERLOOKED: THE SHINY-THINGS EFFECT! READERS WILL PURCHASE A THICK BOOK WHICH IS POORLY PRODUCED, THAN A THIN ONE OF QUALITY, DUE TO THEM PERCEIVING THAT THEY'RE GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH--HENCE ME SAYING IT'S A SCIENCE TO PUBLISHING. I DISPISE FILLER...I FORCE MY WRITERS TO DELIVER PROPERLY UNTIL I'M SATISFIED: MEANING SOME MAY HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK FIVE TIMES BEFORE I EVEN BEGIN EDITING: HENCE ME TELLING YOU MONTHS AGO, I TREAT WRITERS NO DIFFERENT THAN TYRA DOES ON AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, GIVING WRITERS HERE ADVERSITY TESTS BEFORE THEY EVEN BECOME GHETTOHEAT® AUTHORS! IF THEY'RE SERIOUS, THEY WILL DO ALL REQUIRED! WHY YOU THINK PUFFY MADE THE ARTISTS IN MAKING OF THE BAND, WALK FROM MANHATTAN TO BROOKLYN & BACK FOR JUNIORS CHEESE CAKE? HE NEEDED TO SEE WHO WOULD DO IT WITH EASE & WEED OUT THE OTHERS WHO COMPLAINED: "CHEESE CAKE, CHEESE CAKE" EVERY DAY NOWADAYS AT GHETTOHEAT®! I RUN A BUSINESS: ONE WHO ALWAYS NEED TO SEE RETURN ON INVESTMENT--THIS IS NOT A HOBBY, EVEN WITH ME LOVING LITERATURE!

SO, NO, 50 PAGES IS NOT SUBSTANTIAL IN MY OPINION OR TO MY STANDARDS.

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I hear so Hickson, but your standards , and mine, go counter to the prevailing sentiment.

 

I took a course at Standford Universilty, where we were taught to "webify" our content online. That means, among other things, writing very short articles with short paragraphs.

The thinking was text dense, detailed content would turn one's website
visitors away. I became concerned at that point because the nature of my site's content defied "webification" which requires an over simplification or a dumbing down of the material I presented.

The idea the this concept is now be applied to books, does not surprise me or concern me less.

 

If you look at the most popular (white owned) Black sites they webify everything.  You would never see content as long as a typical use comment posted here.

 

Cynique, there is defintely a distinction between writing short books delibrated simplied to appeal to a culture with a limited attenion span, the ability consume indepth information and aiming for the lowest common denominator and writing a book in the form of a novella (a story with a compact and pointed plot).

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...TROY, I'VE DONE OVER 1000 BOOK SIGNING SINCE 9/03 & NEVER WITHIN MY TRAVELS SAW NOVELS AT 50 PAGES, NOR A DEMAND FOR SUCH. WHEN I TALK, IT'S NEVER IN THEORY, IT'S FROM EXPERIENCE: EXPERIENCE BEING THE BEST TEACHER. I GET THE WEBIFY CONCEPT, HENCE EVEN MY POSTINGS ON YOUR SITE, YET I DON'T AGREE WITH IT BEING APPLIED TO BOOK PUBLISHING. I'M ALSO AS YOU KNOW, NOT AN ADVOCATE OF FREE DOWNLOADS, .99 BOOKS OR ANY ASPECT OF BOOKS BEING DEVALUED. I'VE DISCUSSED WHY. SO, AGAIN, I DO ALL IN MY POWER TO MAKE SURE MY BOOKS STAY TOP SHELF AT TOP DOLLAR! LET ME ASK YOU THIS, AS I KNOW YOU FAVOR FREE DOWNLOADS & CHEAP BOOKS, HOW MUCH WILL THESE 50-PAGE BOOKS BE & HOW GREAT DO YOU THINK THE DEMAND & PROFITS FROM SAID MENTIONED BE? WE ALREADY EXPLORED WHY WE HAVE .99 CENT STORES & HOW THIS ALSO IS PERCEIVED WITH BOOKS, SO WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS ALL GOING. I ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER, YET WANT YOU TO HONESTLY TYPE YOURS....

GHETTOHEAT® BOOKS TO DATE, REMAIN AT $15!

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Brevity requires certain writing skills, Troy.  And having a short-attention span is not synonomous with being a low-brow reader. A compact 50-page book written by an author who has a talent for conciseness can have just as much merit as a novella written by a mediocre writer telling a mundane tale that is  too long to be a short story and too short to be a novel. 

 

People who prefer long books are not automatically intellectual.  They  may just be readers who look to  books more for escapism than a quick fix.

 

What else can be said?

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I don't take issue with 50 page books that other than calling a 50 page document a "book".  I think there is certainly a place for them in the market place especially for non-fiction authors.

 

Hickson, honestly one person's personal experience does not say much.  I could easily counter your experience with my own but none of this really means very much in terms of what is really happening.  That said, I've seen many 50 pages books.  Some of them may have acutally spanned 100 pages but with the extra wide borders, large fonts and blank pages  -- I doubt some of these books would have made 50 pages.  Now I can't say how much demand there is for these things but they are being made and presumably purhcased...

 

HIckson, I don't know where the industry is going.  I do know, things for Black books are as bad as I've seen them and I've been in the industry for over 15 years.  Not a long time, but enought time to know things have been going in the wrong direction for our literature for several years now.  There are many reasons, the economy, education, the industries business models in turmoil... So a 50 page, 99 cent books would not surprise me in the least bit. 

 

Cynique I agree that people who prefer long books are not automatically intellectual. Cane and Beloved both required a certain mental capacity to appreciate but Toomer's Cane was much shorter though no less deep.

 

I would actually argue that it is more difficult to write a compelling story, with well developed characters, interesting plot, climax and resolution in 50 pages. 

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It's a good idea if your target consumers are 5th graders.

It would be even more effective to include cartoons, and maybe flavor it with words like WHOA!!...BAM!...and WIZAMM!!!  (holy headhunters batman!!!)   from time to time just to emphasize certain points, lol.

But seriously, if you can get your point/message across in 50 pages or less...by all means do so.

No sense in boring the read with a bunch of excess garbage just to add volume.

But I DO see this as a symptom of the "dumbing down" of America.

People seem to be getting intellectually lazier and lazier.

At my job I'm seeing young people (mostly under 25) who are actually spelling "people" as "ppl" and using other text slang in thier work documents.

If you look at people over 60 years old who actually graduated from a public highschool and their penmanship as compared to the average person under 30 (even with a college degree) today and you can easily see evidence of academic deterioration.

Infact if one really wants to see evidence of academic and quite possibly intellectual decline in American politics, just look at the language used by the politicians who wrote and signed both the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independance.

It almost reads like Shakespearean  poetry.

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Pioneer you ever notice those letters from the 1800's.  You know the type, the ones used in say the Kens Burns documentary about the Civil War; Some farmer with an 8th grade education writing to his old lady from some battlefield --- those letters were amazing.

 

Today I'm told many HD students don't even know how to put their address on an envelope -- but why should they?  I hand write one letter, maybe, every 5 years.

 

My penmanship is horrendous today I rarely have to write.  I teach a class now so I'm writing on the board is not easy for me because I've been writing at a key board since 1980 -- for everything.

 

Today's young adults have never known a world without text messaging, and the associated abbreiations.  Not always a sign of laziness just a sign of the times.

 

But to your point I do agree we are lazier and we relequish too much to technology.  Nah-sun mentioned in a post recently that people can't read maps.  This is something that many people found difficult anyway but today there is no reason to learn, even though a GPS often does not give you the best route.

 

People can't cook either...

 

But then I don't really know how to grow anything, hunt, fish, preserve food or even build a shelter.  These skilled were required for survial 100 years ago, but today the knowledge is not required.

 

What is better?  Living closer to nature eating what you kill, or to spending all day looking at the world through a LCD screen and inputting messages for imaginary friends to ignore.  I don't know but I'd like to try living closer to nature for a few. Then again the way things are going I might get my wish.

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Minimalism in literature is nothing new.  Famous author Ernest Hemingway was a proponent of this genre with his short staccato style. And Toni Morrison is, indeed, very adept at it when she utilizes it, as has been the case more and more as she ages. The latest excursion into this genre just takes it to an extreme level. I, myself, look upon a 50-page novel not as a replacement but as an option for readers.

 

Young people write, using their own version of short hand but this doesn't necessarily impact on how long what they write about is. It is as changing world and cursive writing may be one of its casualties. I think the TV games so popular with the younger generation contribute to the short attention span syndrome.

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Admin


 

 

Pioneer you ever notice those letters from the 1800's. You know the type, the ones used in say the Kens Burns documentary about the Civil War; Some farmer with an 8th grade education writing to his old lady from some battlefield --- those letters were amazing.
 


I know what you mean....
Back in those days before public education, only people from middle to upper class families were even literate.
But those who did learn tended to get a superior quality of education because it came with smaller class sizes and tutoring to ensure that each child had more attention from the teacher.

But between you and me, I think what makes the letters in those documentaries SOUND so amazing is the way they are presented.
They usually have a man with a very rich voice reading them along with some Mozart or other classical music in the background to give one an old time nostalgic "early America" feeling, lol.



I rarely text.
I've told people if you have something to tell me, CALL ME and tell me.
I don't even have a texting plan on my phone....the shit costs money every time a text comes in.

The only time I really like texts is if they're giving me some information I may forget and I don't have time to write it down or I'm driving and can't.

Not only does it weaken one's writing skills....personally, I don't think all this texting is very masculine anyway.

A man is supposed to be efficient, alert, and "ready to go" at the sign of danger.
While his lady is busy talking to him or taking in the sights, brother man is supposed to be scoping out the environment for potential threats to him and his woman.
Far too often I see a young couple crossing the street and the man is so busy texting and giggling at whatever the hell he's looking at that his woman has to pull him by the coat to keep the fool from walking into traffic!

These so-calls "smart" phones are making people dumber and more dependant on technology not just for intellectual support but EMOTIONAL support.

Most young people can't sit still with their own thoughts for 5 minutes without whipping out a phone or Ipod or some other external source of stimulation.
They get nervous and figidy if they can't have their pacifiers and comfort blankets.

And I feel sorry for a lot of boys trying to talk to girls today.
There used to be a time when you saw a young lady by herself that was your chance to pull up  a chair and get a conversation going with her.
Lol....now she's NEVER by herself.
As soon as she sits down she's whipping out a phone and pulling up a list of friends to beg a conversation out of.



 


But to your point I do agree we are lazier and we relequish too much to technology. Nah-sun mentioned in a post recently that people can't read maps. This is something that many people found difficult anyway but today there is no reason to learn, even though a GPS often does not give you the best route.

People can't cook either...

But then I don't really know how to grow anything, hunt, fish, preserve food or even build a shelter. These skilled were required for survial 100 years ago, but today the knowledge is not required.
What is better? Living closer to nature eating what you kill, or to spending all day looking at the world through a LCD screen and inputting messages for imaginary friends to ignore. I don't know but I'd like to try living closer to nature for a few. Then again the way things are going I might get my wish.
 


Those skills are actually required for survival TODAY.

Look at the millions of "relatively" decent people who are homeless, unemployed, and locked up in jail from "crimes of poverty" such as minor theft and dope peddling in America today.

If they knew how to fish, hunt, farm, and build thier own homes like our great grand parents did.....atleast most of them would be able to run off into the woods and support themselves off the grid.

But because of survival ignorance they are stuck in the city and forced to rely on the local 7/11 or a few churches who receive thousands of dollars in federal grants and dole out a few cans of soup and spam to feed the hungry masses.

The future is like a guest who is always expected but often unrecognizable
(that's an original quote of mine....lol)

While some of us are waiting on a major apocalyptic event like an earthquake or nuclear holocaust to turn humanity back into the stone age where millions of people are roaming around aimlessly living in a primal state.....

All we have to do is drive around the major cities of America and look at post-apocalyptic effects of a post-Reagan Era and how it destroyed much of the population not only financially but socially and intellectually.

 

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Pioneer very interesting and humorous post.  There is a lot in there to address, but I'll pick one thing out.

 

I've mentioned a number of times here how I think the culture is striving to feminize men, to make them more active consumers of every thing from clothing, shoes, hair care products, salon services, and so forth.  I never considered texting to be feminine, but I have to admit a I can certainly see the point  :o

 

A generation ago girls were known for spending hours on the phone gossiping with other girls. You would look sideways at any dude on the phone for hours everyday with some other cat.   Today teenage girls send hundreds of texts to each other.  When I see guys doing this it does not come across as the most masculine of actives...

 

I admit the same cultural forces that formed my impressions of what a man should be are the same ones that make me dislike the trends that I see today.

 

I do find texting, useful because I can get information from people without having to talk to them which can be VERY time consuming and I have a permanent record of the information.  I can then address the issue on my schedule as opposed to being interrupted throughout the day. I send less than a handful of texts a day and receive just about as many.

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I look at it like this.............

If you're getting some sort of concrete benefit from it like using social media to start a business, make more money, or keep up with a child.....I can understand.
There's a legitimate purpose for it.
It's an investment.

But just to yap and yap and talk about the same rehashed garbage that you just got through talking about 15 minutes ago, it's a waste of time and energy.
It also makes you look weak in my opinion because it's like and emotional crutch that people have to lean on.
I would feel ashamed to just call another man up and casually ask,

"So what you doin'.....where you at".....without something productive to ask or tell him.


But I'm an introvert by nature so people who know me have often told me that most people don't look at social interaction the same way I do.
I can go for 2 or 3 days without talking to anyone.
Most people can't do that, so I take that into consideration when I try to figure out why people spend so much money on social media and post all thier info on places like Facebook and Instagram.

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