Author Steve Laube

Harris Poll Surprises Authors

Today the Harris Poll released the results of a survey of America’s Reading Habits. Every writer should read the article and think about the big picture.

The Harris Poll Article

I normally eschew poll results. The sampling is always so small to proclaim far reaching pronouncements about whatever topic is at hand. In this case there were only 2,775 participants.

Regardless, I found it fascinating that the Mystery/Thriller genre was named the number one choice for reading. The general rule of thumb is that Romance is the #1 genre. We could argue that one all day long.

But more instructive is the fact that the #5 favorite author is Tom Clancy who has not had a new novel in half a decade! (His new novel Dead or Alive is coming out in December.) Thus the respondents were not necessarily naming the authors they are currently reading. For me, this shed some doubt on how knowledgeable the consumer is. This mean readers tend, like we all do, to focus on the “brand name.”

Another intriguing piece of the survey is that 57% of women read Mystery/Thriller versus only 39% of the men. Try telling that to most publishers…

Men choose Science Fiction (32%) more than women (20%). At least this stat tracks most marketing assumptions.

And concerning Non-Fiction it is interesting that Religion (26% of all respondents) is a more popular as a topic than Politics (17%). That isn’t necessarily reflected in the bestsellers lists! The number one non-fiction category was History followed by Biography and then Religion.

I am very curious to hear what your observations are when you view this poll. Does it reflect your reading patterns? What about the habits of your friends, neighbors, or church members?

Are there any implications for the publishing industry? or is this simply something to be ignored?

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Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

By request, here are my Ten Commandments for working with your agent. Break them at your own peril.

Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or editor. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success. Be content with thine own contract. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs.
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That Conference Appointment

You snagged one of those valuable 15 minute appointments with an agent or an editor at the writers conference. Now what? What do you say? How do you say it? And what does that scowling person on the other side of the table want? What if you blow it?

Many excellent posts have been written on this topic (see Rachelle Gardner and Kate Schafer Testerman for example) but thought I would add my perspective as well.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer about attending a writers conference and meeting with an editor or an agent?

Go in with realistic expectations.

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E-Books Redux: Behind the Stats

I had hoped to let yesterday’s post put much of my thoughts to rest on the issue of e-books…at least for a while.

But today I came across this article “What Amazon Didn’t Say About E-Books” by David Carnoy for CNET. In the article he makes some very strong statements regarding Amazon’s claim of reaching a “tipping point” with regard to Kindle sales and its impact on e-book sales.

Do yourself a favor and read the article.

Then vow to lay it all aside for the rest of the Summer and write your book!

And no, the picture for this post is not our cat. I simply found the picture and thought it might get your attention. Feel free to submit your own caption for the photo in the comment section.

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More E-Book News: Behind the Stats

Today’s Wall Street Journal online quotes Amazon.com as saying that ebooks have outsold hardcover books over the last three months.

Additional statistics from that article include: “Amazon sought to suggest that Amazon remains the leading retailer for e-books. The company said that of the 1.14 million James Patterson e-books sold as of July 6, nearly 868,000 were from Amazon.” Also, “in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had claimed that his company’s iBookstore, which launched in April, had taken 20% of the market.”

My observations of these developments are two-fold.
One. Everyone is claiming “dominance” but no one is sharing actual verifiable data. It’s like standing on the playground in pre-school and saying “my Dad can beat up your Dad.”

Two. Claiming that e-books have outsold hardcovers is disingenuous if they are counting free downloads as sales. Remember when Amazon claimed that on Christmas Day they sold more e-books than p-books? Of course they did. Everyone who received a Kindle as a gift, turned it on and downloaded books. Who else was shopping for books on Christmas Day?

Remember the news adage “if it bleeds it leads.” So just because something makes a great headline and a press release doesn’t necessarily reflect day-to-day mundane reality.

By the way, take a look at the comments section of yesterday’s blog entry. Randy Ingermanson provided some great thoughts and I responded with a couple other things to consider as well as part of the ongoing discussion on this issue.

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E-Book Sales: Behind the Stats

There is mixed news with regard to book sales in May of this year. Store sales were down 2.6% but publisher sales were up by 9.8%. Read all the various stats here. Remember these are simply comparison of 2010 monthly numbers with 2009.

The biggest area of growth, percentage-wise, is in e-books (up 162.8%).

But lets look at actual dollars, not percentages.

Publisher sales (according to the Association of American Publishers) were $715.3 million in May. Of that total, e-books accounted for $29.3 million…or about 4%. If this was a 162% jump over 2009, then e-book sales in May of last year were $11.2 million.

There is no question that this is a huge leap. But it still means that 96% of all sales are still in hard copy.

Many experts claim that in five years (by the year 2015) that e-books will “tip” and account for over 50% of all book sales. I’ve heard this from two major publishers (one was the head of the digital initiatives for that publisher) and from my friend Randy Ingermanson in his excellent e-zine (read pages 2-11 for his full report on the issue).

For that to happen a 100% growth rate would have to be sustained. That would mean 2011 would have e-books at 8% of sales, 2012 at 16% of sales, 2013 at 32%, etc.

I’m not arguing that it won’t happen.

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ICRS Observations 2010

Some have asked for my thoughts on this past week’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis. I’m glad to answer. This was my 29th consecutive booksellers convention. At its height there were approximately 14,000 in attendance, many years ago. That is no longer the case. Statistics released indicate …

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In Memory of John Wooden

Last night the great basketball coach John Wooden passed away at the age of ninety-nine. As you can see from the photo to the left I had the privilege of attending one of his basketball camps during the Summer of 1974.

by Steve Laube

Last night the great basketball coach John Wooden passed away at the age of ninety-nine. As you can see from the photo above I had the privilege of attending one of his basketball camps during the Summer of 1974.

It was a John Wooden and Bill Sharman (then coach of the LA Lakers) camp in Honolulu. We lived and breathed basketball 24/7 during that week. We drilled during the day, sat in classes, and scrimmaged in the afternoons and evenings. It was heaven for an aspiring athlete. (For the rest of the world that week was notable because President Nixon resigned that Thursday August 8, 1974.)

During one drill Coach Wooden pointed at me and said, “Come here young man and show me how you rebound the ball.” I sheepishly came out in front the other players and for a couple minutes Coach Wooden schooled me on how to box out. No matter what I did, spinning, pushing, hip-checking, and jumping, he always snagged the rebound. I couldn’t believe this gray haired “old man” who was at least five inches shorter than me could do that. (Coach Wooden would have been 63 years old at the time.) It was only later that I found out that he was in the Hall of Fame…as a player (inducted in 1960)! No wonder he taught this skinny kid a lesson!

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Book Review – Inbound Marketing

In February I was in the Denver airport waiting for a flight. As usual I couldn’t resist browsing the bookstore shelves. Something about the book Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah caught my eye. So, on impulse, I bought the book and began reading it on the plane. I learned a lot about this phenomenon called social marketing and thought that it would be a great book for all authors to read. But I never got around to writing a review!

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