Tag s | The Publishing Life

Two Ways to Think About Your Book

Two of the many complexities within book publishing are how often the book buyer and the book reader are different people and how books may sell only in limited locations.

Some people read only what someone else buys for them. Some books sell primarily in one city at one retail location.

Adults will always be the ones to buy a book for a small child. (A child might latch onto a certain book while in a store, but the adult has the money!)

Additionally, an ongoing joke in Christian publishing circles is if you want to promote a book for men, target the women in their life with the marketing.

This is challenging because we always consider the reader-audience as the one to be targeted for promotion, but in some cases, marketing needs to be aimed at someone else entirely.

Another complicating factor is for some books, the primary sales channel might be an unconventional place, such as an institution (church or ministry), a company or an event/festival of some kind…or the author.

Some books sell almost entirely online, and I am not referring to self-published books or digital-only publications.

Most books dealing with difficult personal issues are not sold in bookstores, any other walk-in retail, or carried in public libraries. Online sales create opportunities for books on subjects a reader might not want to be caught holding in a retail checkout lane.

You know for certain the one time you go to a bookstore and pick up a copy of Is This Rash Contagious? by Dr. Homer O’Pathick, the cash register will be staffed by a neighbor and there will be a price check.

“I have a price check on the rash-book for Mrs. Smith who lives across the street from me and attends Community Christian Church!”

For this reason, the internet and plain brown corrugated shipping boxes were invented.

All joking aside, publishers find the more focused, specific or sensitive the subject of a book, the fewer sales channels are involved in getting books to readers.

Titles on abuse, sensitive health issues, or deep spiritual struggles are not the type of books appearing on displays at retail outlets. The buyers would rather their neighbors not know they are buying it.

Of course, everyone wants to have a best life now, a purpose-driven life, and to hear Jesus calling, so it’s obvious stores will carry those types of books.

In a sense, books which are self-published or published with digital-only publishers, utilizing only online sellers (and the author) have it easier than traditional publishers, who must consider a wider variety of sales channels when they decide everything from retail price, packaging, and of course, how the topic of the book affects each of those issues.

Sometimes a traditional publisher might decline a proposal because they see the sales for a book coming only from one specific channel and question whether those sales alone justify publishing.

An implication of this is why Christian books have a difficult time appearing on prominent best-seller lists like the New York Times or USA Today. They each survey certain sales channels for their sales data and come up with a list. Books sold by authors, churches, ministries, Christian bookstores, or most Christian online sellers are not included in the largest best-seller reporting data.

But all these factors pale in comparison to the challenge that many books are not bought by the people reading them.

You may write a book for middle-school “tweens” about an important subject they need to read, but you will market the book to parents, educators, or church youth workers.

Marketing targets and sales channels are factors every publisher will consider when evaluating an opportunity to publish a book. If the buyer-audience and the sales channels are too difficult to reach, they won’t risk doing the book.

Just another complicating factor for authors as they interact with publishing and think about the place their book holds in the world.

 

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Real Reasons Some Books are Rejected

Most authors and aspiring authors are open to direction and crave constructive comments to help them advance their craft and career. Hopefully, you have had a chance to be part of a good critique group which provided assistance in a manner you found energizing and helpful. When a book is …

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Exciting Developments In Book Publishing

As changes in the marketplace require publishers, authors, and agents adapt continually, a number of entirely new initiatives and companies are springing into action to serve various parts of an ever-evolving industry. Here are some of the most interesting new things to keep on your radar: Elf-Publishing – as books …

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Writers as Students of History

Anyone reading my posts on this agency blog will get a sense of my opinion and perspective on the publishing life. Of the fifty or so blog posts I write each year, many connect something in publishing to a historical event or attempt to draw some sort of application or …

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7 Good Reasons to Self-Publish

I have mentioned before on this site (here and, most recently, here) that aspiring writers often shoot their publishing futures in the foot, so to speak, by self-publishing a book (or books). I won’t repeat myself again (see what I did there?). Instead, I will talk briefly about the good …

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Penalty Flag: Illegal Use of an Exception

Maybe using the word “illegal” is a bit over the top, but at least it grabbed your attention! Because book publishing can be such a subjective or borderline mysterious field of endeavor, many authors respond to the uncertainty by hanging their hopes for success on something which could best be …

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Losing Track of Time

When I first started sending books and articles to editors in hopes of being selected for publication, the passage of time possessed few markers. For example, the mail arrived once a day. There was no trail like this on the touchtone wall phone: Wednesday, 10 AM: Your Amazon order was …

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Marketing to Younger Readers

A challenge for book promoters is trying to market to a narrow group of people and discovering they are not easily distinguished one from another.  People are born every day and there is no definable space between demographic markets. Generational identifiers are not scientific, but arbitrary for marketing convenience sake. …

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Our Rapidly Changing Culture

Every year Beloit College creates a “Mindset List” which reflects the culture that the incoming Freshman class have grown up experiencing. It helps their faculty know how to relate to these incoming students. Click here for this year’s Mindset List.

I download this list every year and read it with increasing wonder at the speed of our cultural changes.

The college graduating class of 2014 was born in 1992. Think about that for a second. If you are a writer, you can no longer assume that your audience will understand your cultural references. In a mere six years, today’s 18-year-olds will be adults…possibly with families and jobs and children…they will be reading your books and articles.

And you will only be six years older than you are now.

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Deadlines Born – Deadlines Made

Deadlines. The bane of every writer’s existence. “A necessary evil.” “My nemesis.” I talked to an author who changed the internal time clock on his computer just so he could have three extra hours, claiming he was writing on the West coast (USA) instead of where his office was (East …

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