Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Test Your Book Knowledge

BlankbookLast Sunday’s New York Times book review section included a fascinating essay by Henry Alford called Name That Book.  It’s not really an essay but a multiple choice quiz about books. You may or may not recognize all of the authors and the titles in this exercise but I’d encourage you to read through it.  Why?

Embedded in the questions and the answers are some insights into how the publishing business works. The business is constantly in motion and changing as circumstances and authors change. Just look for a minute at question #8 about Donald Trump. “By the time Donald Trump’s “Surviving at the Top” came out in paperback in 1991, Trump had declared bankruptcy and was $2 billion in debt, so the book was renamed:

a. “The Art of Survival”

b.”How to Survive”

c. “Trump: La Lucha Continua”

d. “Do I Owe You Money?”

The answer is a. The Art of Survival. See how the publisher made an adjustment so the paperback edition reflected the reality of Trump’s situation—yet still attracted readers? It reveals the type of decisions which are being made daily in the publishing world.  It also returns to a theme which I’ve hit several times in these entries about the writing life: a show stopping title is critical to finding your audience. Follow this link to get Mahesh Grossman’s report Strategies for a Six-Figure Advance. Then do more than download it. Study it and apply it to your book proposal writing.

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