USA Today celebrated its 33rd year of existence in September. When it entered the newspaper business it was given very little chance to succeed. It aimed to become the nation’s very first general interest newspaper. But it did several unconventional things, including publishing only five times a week and not on holidays. It didn’t cover a specific city or region. It published in color.
Authors and publishers should learn from what USA Today did when it launched its newly styled publication. It is important to find a niche or an underserved market – and to go where little competition exists. The NY Times acted as a national paper but it couldn’t really cover the nation the way USA Today approached it. Plus The Times was viewed as “too smart” or “too New York” by some parts of the country. USA Today shared things in a simple way, highlighting more features and lifestyle pieces, rather than hard news.
As an author, where can you make your mark? Is there a genre that’s underserved? Is there a writing style that can be introduced – or a unique way of packaging a book that will draw attention to itself?
USA Today took a chance – and won. It essentially had to compete with every local paper in the country. It was like a daily magazine. But people came to see it not as a competitor to their local paper, but as a complement to it.
USA Today also made deals early on to get it out to hotels and the travel community. It has made itself a strong following by being available everywhere – newsstands, hotels, vending machines, and supermarkets.
Authors and publishers can discover their own USA Today. They can put out a new product that hasn’t been done before or that hasn’t yet received wide distribution. It just takes some creative thought to figure out what the next new thing is.
Over the years publishing has tried many things, including:
· Annual editions of books
· Connecting adult books into children’s versions
· Creating sequels, prequels, trilogies, series, aerials, novellas
· Publishing “best of” books of essays, poems, etc.
· Releasing books with CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and supplements
· Issuing a book with multiple cover variations
· Reissuing an old, out-of-print book
· Publishing incomplete manuscripts from dead authors
· Printing oversized books, large-print books, books with shiny and glossy paper, and special collector editions
· Releasing spoofs and satires of famous books
So what’s the next trick?
· How about revising classics that take place in another time period?
· Issuing an “opposites” version of a book, where the opposite takes place in the story? Imagine if the woman does the spanking of a man in 50 Shades?
· Writing books about professions, cities, or lifestyles that haven’t received much coverage in books, such as the job of someone who inspects the quality control for producing garbage bags or the sex lives of octogenarian epileptics or life in the town of a place that hasn’t seen a new birth in 15 years?
What’s new, unique or better is what will sell well. Find out what people could want but just haven’t seen yet. Be the one to produce it first. Be the USA Today of books.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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