2020-05-23 16:00:46

What is Open Authoring?

Books are traditionally written by one or two authors, and the entire work stems from the knowledge and ideas coming from those few persons. The authors, of course, have to research a lot, gather information from various sources, perhaps interview hundreds of people, but they are the authors of the book because they are the ones who have assimilated all the information from the varied sources and are ultimately responsible for the creation of the book.

This method of book writing has been practiced since ages, and obviously worked quite well for the authors, and the publishers who’ve gone on to publish these books and make them a success. However, the traditional way of book writing has certain underlying issues.

Firstly, it generally takes an awful lot of time to complete a book. Authors commonly are “authors by profession”, and spend all their time only writing. Only after months or years of hard work, does a book take shape. Now, this model may work very well for an established author. But for a newbie, it is a very tough decision to become a full-time author. Furthermore, once the book is complete, the author faces the Herculean task of running around identifying the right publisher who might agree to publish the book. Then there are book agents, and the whole industry around them. So essentially, the barrier to entering the profession of authoring is very big. This barrier limits many invaluable ideas from reaching the readers who might benefit from them.

The creation of a book, thus, is driven by the minds of only one or two individuals. In many cases, the book reflects the perception of the author(s) and as a result may not be as inclusive as one might like it to be. For example, books written by authors from the west, about cultures or traditions of the east, tend to reflect the author’s western view, and portray the people on whom the books are written as the “others”. This “perception issue” tremendously limits the potential of the book to disseminate real information without any colorings of the authors’ minds.

And then, we have the famously dreaded “Writer’s Block”. Once an author gets stuck there, it gets very challenging for the author and the associated people, to steer through that difficult situation.

There may be many more issues with the traditional approach toward writing books, but this blog is written by me (only one author), and hence faces the limitation of me writing only all that I could think of! I’m sure I must have missed some very important points that another author may well point out.

These limitations with the traditional way of book writing brought us to realize an incredible opportunity: what if we “open up” the process of authoring to include ALL interested? Many of us have many unique ideas, but do not know how best to share them. Why not provide them with the tools to contribute to a work in progress, and eliminate the dependence on one or two authors to complete a work, while empowering a larger number of people to contribute and make their voices and ideas heard? Furthermore, what if we also give all these contributors the right to the book – they are essentially co-authoring the book, so they must also receive an appropriate monetary compensation per the extent of their contributions. We worked on this line of thought, and developed a digital platform to enable this vision.

Since the approach is an “open approach” toward an otherwise “closed” process of authoring books, we’ve named it “Open Authoring”.

Under this model, the topic of the book and its structure is pre-decided – the genre/theme, a tentative title, what kind of content it will hold and how the chapters will look like. Then we open this book to the public to populate it with their unique knowledge and ideas. A Book Manager curates, selects, edits each and every contribution that’s made to the book, and then the contributions appear on the platform for everyone to view. The book grows with each contribution. This progressive, open creation of the content of the book has a certain synergistic effect – the contributed ideas inspire and sometimes also direct new contributions, leading to an amazingly diverse content. This way we arrive at a final manuscript that is derived from a truly collaborative exercise, and because the books are actively managed, we ensure that the books grow in the intended way. We do take care to not “over-manage”, and to keep the natural order in place. The aim is to create books so good that they may go on to become bestsellers, thoroughly loved and cherished by the readers. Through our selection and editing expertise, we ensure that the quality of the incoming contributions match this vision.

One of the biggest advantage of this new form of writing is the amazingly short time it takes to complete a book. We typically open each book for a window of two months, and then, depending on the incoming contributions, may have to extend it by another 15 days. And that’s it! The final manuscript is ready within 2.5 months! And this time period generally applies to any book from any genre.

Once you become a co-author of a published book, you earn yourself the right to receive the contributor fee for as long as the book is out there for sale. And if the book becomes a bestseller, it may as well become a considerably big source of income for you! No mentioning the fact that you did not have to move an inch to get the book published.

Books written by “Open Authoring” includes content from a wide set of authors. We do not distinguish between “famous” authors, and newbies, neither between authors from the east or west, not even between authors with good English skills or bad! All that matters to us when selecting the contributions is the novelty, genuineness, and freshness of the ideas that are conveyed. This diversity helps in eliminating any perception bias, and gives the first-hand, real picture.

The “Writers’ Block” does not exist in this model, since we are not depending on one author to complete the book. This also helps in eliminating the pressure on authors, when they know that someone will pick up from where they left, and extend on their idea, or create a new idea. The authors, therefore, are able to contribute in a stress-free atmosphere, thereby giving a better output.

We believe that this is a great opportunity for those who have had ideas and knowledge, but did not know where or how to share. Even a short piece of contribution that may harbor a path-breaking idea, can potentially make it to the published version (without all the running around usually needed if one wants to see their work published), widely read and shared over the years. This is not a blog, or a magazine article that has a limited shelf-life. A book is for lifetimes. Here’s your chance to make your voice heard, and in the long-term!