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.
Monday, May 2, 2016
How Do You Pick Out of 20M Books?
Books has scanned more than 20 million books.
Yes, that is 20,000,000. It’s
hard to wrap our heads around that number.
By the end of the 1980s, fewer than 45,000 new books were being released
annually. Over a decade ago it surpassed
500,000 new titles per year, and then a million. Self-publishing, foreign translations of
overseas books, and an explosion in ebooks has made the book market a very
crowded place. But the books scanned by
Google include a lot of old, rare out-of-print books, some of which are
historically important. The question is
this: How do we prioritize or rank these books so that they are meaningful to
readers, scholars, the media, and writers?
old card catalogue at your musty, neighborhood library used to list books in alphabetical
order, by an author’s last name. They may
have also had a version that did the same with the titles. Eventually this went digital. Vast computer banks in the clouds store the
names of all the books known to have existed, give or take a few. Now you search in a number of ways, though no
system is perfect.
can search by an author’s name, book title, genre, publisher, year published, and
to a degree, by specific words or phrases in these books. Google Books, on the positive side (even if
it violated copyright law in my view), makes the content of all books
searchable. Historians, researchers,
writers, media, companies, and the government have access to a great amount of
how does one find a book to read?
There are so many ways to go:
off a book review.
a recommendation from a friend.
what makes a Top 10 list by a blogger.
one that won a significant award.
you can pick out one with a provocative title, cool cover, or interesting artwork. Actually, a good chunk of books are read
because a teacher assigned them, a boss required it, or because you received it
as a gift. But there are times where we
want to just discover a book, not knowing what we want, not particularly in
need of anything. How do we do
that? Where do we start the search?
like going to used bookstores, even though I love new books and their pristine,
uncracked pages. But used bookstores act
like a grandparent handing down books they enjoyed 20, 30, 50 or 80 years ago.
If you want to see what’s stood the test of at least one generation, visit your
antiquarian shop in the area.
are typically arranged in a store by format, genre, sometimes price, and, if a
best-seller. At a used bookstore there’s
more of a mixed-bag approach to how things are displayed.
an author you can see why book marketing and publicity is so, so
important. You not only are competing
for attention with other products, content providers, and the distractions or
demands of life, but with all books that have ever been published and now have
become available. Books want a home, to
be adopted by someone who will enjoy them.
How will you help your book find a good home?
are over one billion people who speak English on the planet. Find them and tell them about your book. Show them why they need it or should desire
it. Making them aware it exists is the
real battle. Once discovered, the book
must sell itself. And if it’s good or
useful, word-of-mouth shall spread. If
not, into obscurity you go.
may be 20 million books out there but the truth is there are only maybe a
thousand different types of book out there.
Yes, the archetypes. Look at the
plot lines that come up over and over -- good vs. evil, human perfection, moral
conflicts, wandering lovers, superhero powers, searching for God, the pursuit
of riches, the value of family, the underdog who prevails, etc. So many millions of books are just different
takes on the same story. The same is true
with non-fiction. There are only so many
ways to make money, save a relationship, raise a child, improve government,
cook a healthy meal, or learn how to lose weight. So how do we find the best,
most relevant, most accurate books?
will find that it’s rare that a book becomes a one-stop, sole-resource point of
action. No matter how good a novel is,
you move on to another one. And no
matter how informative a book is, you benefit by consulting more than one book
on a given subject. Perhaps the way to
finding the right book is to keep looking, and to never end the search.
book, no matter how old, has something to offer you. By consulting thousands or even tens of
thousands of books, you will grow in knowledge, creativity, and ability. Some books are must-reads and are superior to
others but the vast majority have something worthwhile to offer the hungry
reader who seeks them out or stumbles upon them.
you read 1% of all books – 200,000 -- you would be incredible. If you read 1% of 1% -- 2,000 books – you would
still be quite exceptional. Whichever
ones you consume, appreciate them for what they are, and never feel satiated or
act as if your library of knowledge is complete. There’s a new truth awaiting
your discovery on the other side of the page.
Use these 4 ways to market a book:
pay, act, trade, network