1. Nodin
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    Nodin Member

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    Questions about genre, title, and cover

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nodin, Apr 30, 2008.

    Opinions please!

    I would like to ask all forum users their opinion about a book’s subject matter, which genre you would expect the book to be found in a book store, what audience should the book be aimed at, and what style of title and cover would be most appropriate.

    Background: For thousands of years, western philosophy has debated the origins and definitions of many words, especially those of ethics, morals, right, wrong, and knowledge. Upon my enquiry with recent Ph.D. graduates, I was told that it is still generally believed that there is no firm definition for ethics, morals, right, wrong, or numerous other terms such as beauty.

    John Stuart Mill’s 1879 book “Utilitarianism” well explains what I am pointing at: “There are few circumstances among those which make up the present condition of human knowledge, more unlike what might have been expected, or more significant of the backward state in which speculation on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion of right and wrong. From the dawn of philosophy, the question concerning the summum bonum, or, what is the same thing, concerning the foundation of morality, has been accounted the main problem in speculative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one another. And after more than two thousand years the same discussions continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same contending banners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being unanimous on the subject, than when the youth Socrates listened to the old Protagoras, and asserted (if Plato’s dialogue be grounded on a real conversation) the theory of utilitarianism against the popular morality of the so-called sophist.”

    Now my question is that if an individual did discover the philosophical, psychological, and physiological structuring of how ethics and morals originate, then how should the book be presented to the public? I do not know the general public’s views on things like this, and that is why I am now asking. :)

    Question 1: What genre should the book be placed in? Philosophy appears to me to be the better choice, but the topic also encompasses psychology as well as physics. I wonder if the book might find its greater interest (sales) if it were placed within the genre of religion since religion gives emphasis on ethics and morals, and perhaps too, because many people may believe that ethics and morals originated from religions. Local book stores have many shelves for history and religion, but few for philosophy, which tells me that philosophy may not be a popular genre.

    Question 2: How large of a title is acceptable? One of my favorite books is Julian Jaynes’ “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.” For the general public, are long titles good or bad for the topic of ethics and morals?

    Question 3: What style of cover might be best noticed and acceptable? Many philosophy books use paintings by Rembrandt and others, but what if the book finds a better audience in religion? Some popular philosophy books like Krisnamurti’s use a photograph of the author on the cover. Colors influence the customer’s mood, and while many philosophy books are now using black backgrounds, might there be a better choice if the book were to be aimed at more genres?

    Question 4: Is there a specific age group that the book should be aimed at? Would it be useful to aim the book’s writing style for high school and college students, or to try to widen the style for all ages?

    Question 5: This is perhaps the most important question of all: does the general public care about the topic? Would the public be interested in discovering why they interpret a thing as right or wrong? Would the public be interested in knowing what thing dictates ethics and morals, and why?

    Any and all thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Basically, if the person is religious, then they will believe their religion has the rights and wrongs. If you put it in religion, then people will consider your book an attempt at religion. I'd suggest philosophy.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it also sounds most like 'philosophy' to me... but it's not just your decision to make... the bookstore will decide where it goes, not the author... and then, the reviewers will determine if that's what they think it is...

    see above...

    short, pithy titles are always best for sales... longer titles can be successful, but the reason will not be the title... a well-known name and controversial or exceptional content can overcome a long, involved title...

    anything is acceptable, short of out and out porn, unless you're selling to that market... what's noticed more in a positive way, will be a well-done, simple, but eye-catching cover that sparks the viewer's interest in the subject... whether it's photography or artwork won't matter, as long as it's tasteful and appealing...

    i doubt yours will, but even if it did, it's not whether you use a well-known painting or not that makes a cover work, but how it's designed and how well it goes with the title and content... just go look at all the covers in your nearest bookstore... you'll see anything and everything, regardless of genre...

    that only works if you're famous...

    you're overagonizing over all this stuff... just go look at the books that are out there and i'm sure you'll get some good ideas for your own... then pick the one that you like best and just go with it!

    of course!... but you should know your market before you write the thing... if you're only now wondering who's gonna want to read it, then you have to go by how you wrote it and what it covers... is it written in a way that adults will relate to it and find it of interest, or is it written in a teen-ish style/voice that adults will find too childish to want to bother with?...

    if you've already written the book, it's way too late for this question... if you're only just starting to write it, it's up to you who you want to write it for... and what market you're capable of writing it for... as for high school and college age readers, why would they want to read it?... it doesn't sound like anything the YA readers would be keen to read, does it?... and you can't break into the text book market without some credentials... so, it seems it would be best to aim it at the adult non-fiction market...

    not much, imo... it's a definitely limited-market topic... but if the book is well-written, the research is sound, and the subject approached in an interesting/entertaining way, it might find some buyers...

    first of all, why should they believe you?... what credentials do you have to set yourself up as an expert on the subject, or as one whose opinion/conclusions can be trusted?... if you don't have any, what will make what you write believable?... have you proven your hypotheses?... and do you present them as an interesting 'new' pov, or as boring lectures, or as arrogant words from on high?... those two questions can't be answered except by the work itself...

    hope this helps some... hugs, maia
     
  4. Nodin
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    Thanks Kratos and Mammamaia. I appreciate the input, and it has helped me to make a decision. :)
     
  5. FinalConflict
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    This is up to you, really, although I generally don't pick up books in the bookstore unless their bold, like they take a chance regarding the genre or the content, I respect a writer who does this...not sure if that answers your question or not xD

    Hm...I'd say Philosophy since that seems to be the main focus genre.

    Long Titles really don't have any effect on me, it's the content of the book that matters, although just to be safe because some people can be very picky when it comes to books, I'd make a shorter title.

    I'd say something that stands out.

    Well judging from the genre's I'd say College Students and Adults, but that's just me.


    You'd be surprised.
     
  6. Nodin
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    Nodin Member

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    Thanks FinalConflict!
     
  7. DNC
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    Hi Nodin

    I am a PhD student in a literary field. My feeling is that if you really have a passion for them, those questions might form the basis of a thesis, so if I were you I'd consider doing a PhD, perhaps with a mind to academic publishing in the first instance. After that you could always revamp your ideas into a book for the general public having thoroughly engaged with the relevant research. Just a thought.
     
  8. Nodin
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    Thanks for the input DNC. Funny that you mentioned the Ph.D. angle; I did enroll a couple years back with the aim of earning a Ph.D. in philosophy. After so many years since my last classes, it made me feel good that I was so easily accepted. Due to several reasons, however, the scholastic goal was abandoned.

    The book is already in print, but I had been considering the possibility of creating a separate edition for the general public. As you are familiar, specialized topics (including theses) rarely find a market outside of academia, and there is insufficient general public interest to warrant a publisher, or me, to invest the time and money in a mass-market edition. The majority of buyers of my books are college students who are interested in learning information beyond textbooks and recommended-reading titles. Some high school teachers have used my works in ethics classes. I have read some of the responses from various classes, and the students showed a sizable interest and appreciation for the information. All things considered, I now think it is best to leave the book as-is.

    Years back the general public liked how I put a paranormal slant to a physics topic, but I can’t put a paranormal slant on ethics. LOL!
     

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