Counsels to Writers and Editors


Chapter 22—The Book Committee

Selection of the Book Committee—Great care should be exercised in selecting the members of the book committee. The men who are to pass judgment on the books offered for publication should be few and well chosen. Only such as have an experimental knowledge of authorship are qualified to act in this capacity. Only those should be chosen whose hearts are under the control of the Spirit of God. They should be men of prayer, men who do not exalt self, but who love and fear God, and respect their brethren. Only such as, in distrust of self, are led by divine wisdom, are competent to fill this important position.—Testimonies for the Church 7:160. CW 159.1

Men of Experience to Serve—Manuscripts have been placed in the hands of men for criticism when the eyes of their understanding were so blinded that they could not discern the spiritual import of the subject with which they were dealing. More than this, they had no real knowledge of bookmaking. They had had neither study nor practice in the line of literary productions. Men have sat in judgment upon books and manuscripts, unwisely placed in their hands, when they should have declined to serve in any such capacity. It would have been only honest for them to say, “I have had no experience in this line of work, and should certainly do injustice to myself and to others in giving my opinion. Excuse me, brethren; instead of instructing others, I need that someone should teach me.” But this was far from their thoughts. They expressed themselves freely in regard to subjects of which they knew nothing. Conclusions have been accepted as the opinions of wise men, when they were simply the opinions of novices.—Manuscript 14, 1896. CW 159.2

Counsel to the Book Committee—I have some things to say in reference to the making of books. There are dangers which our book committee needs to guard against. Men who have any part to act in the service of God should be careful, lest they use the common fire in the place of the sacred. They should watch and pray, and be careful that their own hearts are under the control of the Spirit of God. If, like Daniel, they are men of earnest prayer, they will be careful of their words and deportment. They will not exalt self, but they will love and fear God, and respect their brethren. They will pray for grace to keep themselves faithful and true and untainted with selfishness in their connection with the work of God. No neglect will be seen, no complaints will be heard, no unjust course will be taken toward any man whom God has used in His work.... CW 160.1

The men who are placed in the position to judge if books are worthy of publication should be few and well chosen. Men who have never written a book themselves, or had any experience in this line, cannot be expected to have clear perceptions in these matters, and they should never be placed on a committee to pass their judgment or estimate the value of a book. They may speak of these matters as though they were competent to judge, but they are ignorant of the subject brought before them.... CW 160.2

Many books have been issued, not for the glory of God, but simply because the authors desired to make a book. Men have considered it their right to put books into circulation which were not at all needed, that they might make a little money for themselves. Other persons feel that their productions are needed, and are greatly offended when they are not recognized as authors.... CW 161.1

The Lord would have men of solid judgment in connection with His work, else the world will be flooded with a class of literature that it might better be without. And His people are to learn to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.—Letter 208, 1899. CW 161.2