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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who Creates a Book?

The author wrote the book. It is her book. See her name on the spine and the title page? As writers, we understand and glory in the contributions of the writer. Without the writer there is no book. Open and shut case.

But if you only have a writer, you still do not have a book. In a logic class, we might say that the writer is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the creation of a book. But that is much too formal for the point I want to make here.

Writers can't create books by themselves. They need the help from many people. Generally, someone else edits the manuscript, designs the book, picks the typeface and devises the dust jacket. In addition, others print the books, warehouse them, distribute them to book stores, sell them to customers and handle the returns. Still others tally the sales, bank the revenues, pay the bills and send royalty checks to the writer.

Even the writing is not solely the product of the writer's fertile mind. Most books – fiction and nonfiction alike – require research. To find the facts, ideas and insight required to fill our books, we search the Internet, prowl libraries and pester people to part with their expertise and reveal their secrets. The acknowledgements of any hefty nonfiction book overflows with grateful thanks to scores of people. The author's genuine appreciation comes from her awareness that she would have written a lesser book without their help.

The next time you complain about the size of your royalty check, take a moment to remember everyone else whose skilled work deserved payment for helping you turn your idea into a book.

DB Dewer

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