A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Are Best-Selling Books Really Any Good?
authors that I speak with, whether self-published or published by a leading
publisher, regardless of genre, a writer’s credentials, or the marketing
campaign behind their books, will ask about how they can become a best-selling
author. It is understandable that they’d
want to make a list – they seek fame, fortune, and to be heard in a big
way. But do our best-seller lists really
represent the best books out there?
lists are in today’s world a manipulated reward for those who know how to game
the system. Through pre-launch orders
arranged by an author’s marketing team, family and friends, one can hit a
best-seller list not because of the merits of the book but the proof that expensive
and persistent marketing has a pay-off.
Nothing wrong there, but one should not be fooled into thinking that a
best-seller is necessarily a great book. Heck, it
may not even be a good one.
a book gets on a best-seller list it tends to beget more sales. More people – reviewers, media, consumers –
pay attention to these lists and further create a demand for a book they know
little about. It’s a process similar to when people choose the brand item vs.
the generic or unknown label simply because it seems familiar and recognized in
an authoritative way.
again, there’s almost a deliberate opposition to best-sellers by the literary
snobbery. Whether it’s jealousy or
something else, the elitists may purposely damn a book because it is popular
and on a list. Everyone likes to knock a
leader off his perch. But that kind of
prejudice seems uncalled for. A
best-seller can be a very good book. But
its selling status is not necessarily an indicator of the content quality, just
as a beautiful person may be ugly on the inside. No guarantees there.
lists used to be influenced by a number of factors, including traditional
reviews by a respected handful, huge advertising campaigns, big publicity
tours, and positive word-of-mouth. Now a big
player is pre-order shenanigans arranged by people who know how to process a
certain amount of orders by reaching out to an author’s list of connections,
including ones the author will underwrite book purchases for. Further, social media is now dictating
popularity and fueling book sales, but again, the buzz is not necessarily based
on the book’s purity – just its author’s financial ability to get influencers
to post on his behalf.
are created and rarely just materialize organically. It’s a crafted, controlled process that
represents not so much the best of books but the best of book marketing. What will it take to make these lists
purified and truly representative of real consumers and their reading
judgments? We may never know.
What Does It Really Take To Hit A Best-Seller List?