Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Out-of-date or timeless?
When writing a magazine or newspaper article or a scholarly document, it's common to include a lot of dates. Readers expect to know exactly when a politician made a speech, when a war ended, when a new car model was introduced or when a price was raised or lowered.
Writing a book is different, and writers who string words together for multiple media have to be aware of where those words are going.
If a book is published in August of 2009, and it refers to an event that happened in July of 2009, the first readers will be very impressed by how up-to-date their new books are.
But people who buy the book in 2012 may wonder how much had changed in three years.
If you're writing a book, other than a history book, try to minimize the number of dates you publish. Only a few dates are really significant. Many events and trends are significant regardless of exactly when they occurred.
With a book, timelessness is better than timeliness.
(Thanks very much to Morris Rosenthal, author of Print-On-Demand Book Publishing, for this important tip. I revised a book because of it.)