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Friday, January 15, 2016

Would Shark Tank Greenlight Your Book?



Have you watched episodes of the television show, Shark Tank and wondered what it would be like to get investors for your brilliant business idea?  How about going before such a firing squad to get financial supporters for your book?

The television show did not invent the concept of investors sitting around a table and weighing in on whether to buy into a piece of a company, but it did take it to another level by having competing investors bid against as well as with one another, and they certainly took a business event and turned it into an educational and entertaining moment.  After randomly watching a number of episodes I wondered what would happen if there were a Shark Tank model for book publishing.

In some ways, it exists in a few forms.  There are money-raising sites, like kickstarter.com, that allow for authors or publishers to raise funds for book-related projects, though there’s no firing-squad setup for authors to beg before.  But publishers, and their editorial teams, and literary agents, each have their own way of Shark Tanking a project.  They need to evaluate how much money or time a book is worth to them before agreeing to partner with the author.

Book properties could be hard to secure Shark Tank investors.  For one, publishing doesn’t pay off like other product investments.  Secondly, the profit margins are low, competition is fierce, and unless you become an exceptional best-seller, the upside is limited while the downside can be substantial.

Maybe instead of Shark Tanking a single book and its sales, we do it for an author’s career – or next five books – and throw in any services/products that spawn from the success of these books.  Would an author sell his soul to increase his or her chances at success?

Imagine a writer comes before a panel and stakes a case as to why investors should front her $150,000 for a blow-out marketing campaign and to ensure some profits to the author, and in exchange the investor gets a piece of the book sales, movie rights deals, sequels, and any business that leads directly from the book – consulting fees, speaking engagement fees, spin-off products, etc.?

Authors, like other would-be entrepreneurs, have to weigh their short-term needs versus long-term potential.  Many are desperate and would jump at the opportunity to cover costs and secure some profits for their book, even if it means paying down the road and miss out on future chunks of money they may be forfeiting on to their investors.

How would an author go about assessing what their brand could be worth when they don’t have much of a brand?  It’s a Catch-22 situation:  trying to determine value for something that is not yet valuable, but by assigning a dollar amount to it you begin the process of seeing it get valuated.

Statistically, most author brands aren’t worth much.  The vast majority of authors fail to sell more than 25,000 copies in a given year and most die after their initial launch period.  The odds are that a book will not make much money.

But Shark Tank could still evaluate a few thousand books that could be worth investing in.  Certainly as a brand, some authors can be worth millions, but how would Shark Tank predict such winners and losers?

Do you have a book or brand that you believe is worthy of Shark Tank attention?  If you do- keep the project to yourself.  Why cut anyone else in?  Just take out a loan and pay it off once, rather than cutting into your profits for your entire career or the life of the book.  But if you feel your book is risky or not so commercial, what the heck, get investors.  If it surprisingly breaks through then you still win and if it doesn’t you don’t lose.

Good luck!


2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit



Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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