Too Much of a Good Thing
Yesterday I returned from a few days in Orange County, California. I picked up the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times and the front page included an interesting article about book publishing, Booked-Up Publishers Could Be in a Bind by Josh Getlin. (You can gain free access to the article the the Times requires registration).
Apparently this fall publishers will release the largest group of new books from brand-name authors in recent memory. It’s going to cause a frenzy of marketing approaches to gain attention and make them stand out for consumers. As Getlin writes, “As Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Lunch, a book industry website, put it, “There’s a legitimate question whether this is too much at once, whether the market can handle it. There are just so many of them.” The situation has publishers trying novel marketing and publicity strategies as they struggle to get attention for their authors.”
If you follow the book market, you will recognize some or all of these names: John Grisham, John Le Carr�, Stephen King; Michael Crichton, Robert Ludlum, James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, David Baldacci, Danielle Steel, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, Isabel Allende, Richard Ford, Mary Gordon, Charles Frazier, Bob Woodward, Frank Rich, Bill O'Reilly, Andrew Sullivan, John Ashcroft and Sen. Barack Obama.
With all of these authors (plus other markets not mentioned in this article), there will be a lot of media attention on books (which is a good thing). There will also be increased efforts from these different authors to reach their audience and generate book sales. As Getlin writes, “Indeed, publishers are betting that the sheer number of hot titles, many from authors with huge fan bases, will generate heavy bookstore traffic and online buying, which benefits all of them. But there are predictable dips in buying behavior for any book. Readers often rush to buy a title in its first week, but then sales taper off. The heaviest and most sustained buying activity traditionally takes place after Thanksgiving, making this season’s glutted market harder to gauge.”
There are several reasons to call this article to your attention. First, be aware that some publishers will try some different marketing strategies to make their authors stand out from the crowd. Can you learn something from one of these innovations? Will you be able to take the same strategy (provided it works) and incorporate it into your book proposal or your pitch to a publisher? It’s possible provided it’s not too prohibitive in terms of cost or effort. In the long run, I believe it will be a good thing for books because it will put increased focus on the printed page. And if you keep your eyes open, you just might learn a thing or two.