5/14/08

When a Good Book Doesn't Sell

If you publish a book, you obviously believe it will sell. If a book doesn't sell well, what do you think are some of the causes?

Assuming the book is, indeed, a well-written book, in the LDS market the main reasons a good book doesn't sell well are:
  1. Deseret Book didn't pick it up so it's not in their stores or on their website, therefore most of the LDS book buying public don't know the book exists.

  2. It wasn't marketed/promoted correctly—either not enough promo (so readers didn't know it was there), or the promo wasn't targeted to the right reader, or the promo was lame, or the book cover was unappealing.

  3. I guessed wrong. The book appealed to me/my staff but didn't have that same appeal to the general LDS readership.

All of these reasons are issues with the publisher, not the author. Unfortunately, it reflects on the author, making it more difficult for them to find another publisher willing to take a chance on them. If an author finds themselves in this situation, they need to double their efforts at getting the word out about their book and encouraging positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

Another issue occurs when a poorly written book is published. It gets negative buzz from readers and doesn't sell well. This is the publisher's fault because it shouldn't have been published in the first place—or it should have been cleaned up first. Some publishers put very little effort into editing and clean up work. Their "bad" books tarnish the reputation of their "good" books. (There is one publisher whose titles I will not buy because so many of them are poorly written. If I think I might like one of their books, I check it out from the library or buy it at D.I.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If an author wanted to get word of mouth out about their book, like you mentioned, what are some ways they can do that, without reflecting negatively on their publisher, who may or may not have tried to promote the book?

William Morris said...

It's a little outdated now and more helpful for nonfiction than fiction authors, but you might want to track down "Guerilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons to Help You Sell Your Work" by Levinson, Frishman and Larsen.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious which publisher you won't buy books from. I might have a hunch, so if you could give me a hint? Multiple choice?