The Real World in 1992 was one of the earliest “modern reality shows” when ordinary people were presented rather than characters. It was cheaper for the producers than what is usually involved in producing a scripted, character-driven show with actors. Survivor catapulted the reality show concept into a phenomenon in 2000, followed by Big Brother in 2001. It created a thirst for competition where winning is all that matters.
People watch and/or participate in reality shows for various reasons. Psychologists say wish fulfillment is a number one reason for many participants, either in terms of career advancement or financial gain. Many watch celebrity reality shows because it somehow makes the celebrities more relatable. Others watch the drama-driven shows because watching others being humiliated makes them feel superior.
So, What Does This Have to Do with Books?
Well, believe it or not, someone has figured out a way to join the fray by pulling in amateur writers (who are obviously desperate to be noticed) to audition for ... wait for it! ... America’s Next Great Author. That’s right! They will have one minute to pitch their book idea to a panel of publishing experts. The six winners all get to live together at the Writer’s Retreat for 30 days during which time “these talented amateurs have to start their books from scratch on day one of the Retreat and finish the novel by the end of the thirty days.” But wait, they also have to participate in storytelling challenges and work with mentors to develop their stories while learning how to market and promote their books. Not sure how much time the extracurricular activities leave for writing from the heart.
Okay, so Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry who are behind this new reality show also co-founded Pitchapalooza (Book Doctors) 15 years ago. It appears to be the model for America’s Next Best Author. With Pitchapalooza a hopeful writer gets 250 words to pitch their book. Twenty are chosen to have their pitches critiqued on a live webinar. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for their future manuscript.
I have no problem with Pitchapalooza. The issues I have with the proposed reality show are 1) being forced to write your book in 30 days while meeting all the other challenges noted, and 2) having to live “Big Brother-style” with five other writers while trying to find a creative space to write.
Being an introvert may color my perspective on the close quarters situation, but being forced to write a book in 30 days with all the interruptions going on is not something I could support. I do realize that some writers today believe if they spend more than six weeks working on a book that it’s a sign they need to pursue another profession (read this on a social media writers’ group).
Bottom line: This would not be my cup of tea, but I’m sure it will have as many participants and watchers as all the other reality shows gracing the airwaves.