Small but Critical Decisions
The stories are everywhere about small but critical decisions which make the difference in the exposure and sales of a book. These decisions determine whether it flies off the retail shelves into the hands of readers or stays in the warehouse and never makes it.
Yesterday I heard another one of these stories. Because I heard the story secondhand, I’m not going to give a lot of the specifics but the principles are important to learn. A book author had the ability to sell their product at speaking events and other such self-generated events. This author decided to self-publish his book and used a well-known company for this process who produced an attractive book. When this author was going through the publishing process with the self-publisher, the author made a critical decision. He decided he didn’t need to have his book distributed. It means he decided not to list his book in any recognized system within the publishing community. His book would never appear on Amazon.com or any other manner. He was simply going to sell the book at his events. It’s an OK decision—only if you understand the potential ramifications.
When the book arrived, this author was thrilled and enthused. I’m unsure if he hired an outside publicist or wrote the promotional material himself. He made a list of possible markets for his book. One of his information packets arrived in the hands of a major television program. Each day millions of people watch this show. The author appeared on the television show and read a portion of his book. You talk about some great publicity and exposure. I’m sure he was thrilled with the opportunity for promotion. Yet from this appearance, there will be limited book sales (if any).
Why? It is well known if someone appears on Oprah with their book, the sales have shown to climb on the bestseller lists. Go back to my second paragraph, the author made a critical decision not to distribute his book. We are a nation of choice. You may purchase your books through Amazon.com and I may decide to support my local independent bookseller and buy my books at that retail store. When it comes to sales, your greatest potential is with the greatest possible options. This author only had one option for selling his book—when he sold it himself to an individual. The television viewer may have remembered or written down the book title. Later when the customer asks about this book inside a bookstore or searches at an online bookstore, they will never find the book. It isn’t there. It’s one of those situations where you have to shake your head about the missed opportunity.
In another situation, a first-time author knows little about skillfully promoting a new book. Because of this author’s career, the media is often interviewing the author for various stories. These stories can be a great publicity opportunity—but only if you mention the book and make sure you include some connection for the journalist to include it in the finished story. Recently this author interviewed with a major Christian magazine. The author’s life story was fascinating and makes for great drama—something magazines love. Yet during the interview this author failed to mention the availability of the book. The magazine would have weaved it into the article—yet they didn’t know about the book. The story recently appeared without any mention of this book—to the great frustration of the publisher. At the critical decision point, this author neglected to talk about the book.
There are many of these decisions in the process of publishing. Often these decisions are small yet critical to the success or lack of success for a book. Learn as much as you can about the process—then you will be better equipped to use wisdom.