Thursday, May 17, 2018

Are There Too Many Books – Or Not Enough?

As a writer – or book reader – do you find it burdensome and overwhelming that 3,000 new titles flood the marketplace daily – or do you find some type of solace to know that no one can read much more than 1% of 1% of that sum?

As a writer you loathe competition at such a frenetic pace.  To know that every 25 seconds another book has been released is mind-boggling and makes the author feel insignificant.  Your book is one of literally a million new ones made available this year.  You must wonder:  How will my book get discovered?  Why would they read mine vs. any of these others?  How do I get media coverage for my book when all of these books are also vying for attention?

But if you look more closely, you start to break it down by things such as genre.  Your business book competes with other business books and not erotica, children’s books, or celebrity memoirs.  Even within business books, your leadership book doesn’t compete with a tax guide, or a book about personal finance.

Now probe further.  Which books are written well, penned by someone with legit credentials, and is packaged nicely on the very subject you wrote on?

And of those books, how many are being actively and intelligently promoted to the news media?  We just went from a million competitors to a few hundred, maybe not even a few dozen during the year.

As a consumer, you can almost go through the same process.  You have to choose which book you want based on a number of factors, starting with the genre and book topic.  If it’s a book you need, you’ll seek out those in a certain space, such as books on how to treat back pain.  If it’s a book you desire or could like, the choices are broader.  You may go erotica one minute, sci-fi fantasy the other, or cookbook tomorrow.

But even if you stick to a narrowly defined genre like books about parenting teens, you’ll find lots of them, both new or published in the past few years, as well as classics in the field.  You will have tough choices to make.  It could take hours of careful evaluation before you even narrow down your choices.

So, knowing all of this, I ask again:  How does it make you feel?

As a writer, you should be relieved to know your book can still find a readership, but maybe you should feel cautioned.  Before you write your next book, carefully evaluate the competition so that your book will be better, different and more useful than what already exists.

As a consumer and reader, realize that even if you read a book a week, a day, or an hour, you’ll only touch a tiny fraction of what exists.  And yet, that sampling can come to represent many similar books, so the books you expose yourself to may in fact represent tens of thousands of books with fairly similar content.

There are too many books out there – and yet not enough.  We seek to make better reading choices while looking to write books that are better than what exists.  It’s an interesting challenge – and a game that’s getting tougher to win.

Maybe you should write a book about all of this – but would anyone discover it and read it?

“People seldom read a book which is given to them.  The way to spread a work is to sell it at a low price.”
--Samuel Johnson quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector.  This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have it.”
--Ernest Hemingway, in interview in Writers at Work (2nd series, 1963)

“Printers are educated in the belief that when men differ in opinion both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public; and that when truth and error have fair play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter:  hence they cheerfully serve all contending writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the question in dispute.”
--Benjamin Franklin, ‘Apology for Printers’ (10 June 1731)

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource

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