Sunday, March 1, 2020

What Really Determines Your Book’s Fate?

Image result for fate images

There are a number of rumors, misconceptions, and errant ideas circulating in the book world when it comes to what actually makes a book a success. Let’s explore further.

Imagine reading an article about what it takes to raise a successful child. First you would ask to define what successful means – and then you’d run down a list that looked like this:

·         Genes
·         Upbringing at home
·         Friends
·         School
·         Money
·         Race
·         Influence of social media, movies, news, video games
·         Luck
·         Health/physical appearance and abilities
·         If victimized at a young age
·         Hobbies
·         Sports participation
·         Social outlets
·         Neighborhood environment
·         Access to mental wellness services and healthcare

I’m sure you can add to the list of nurture vs. nature, but you get the point. Well, the same approach, to a degree, can be taken with books.

What gives a book a better chance of success?

·         Size of targeted readership.
·         Health of writer.
·         Appearance of writer.
·         If it’s self-published.
·         Level of competition in genre.
·         Luck.
·         Timeliness of the book.
·         Author’s location.

But what it really comes down to is this:

Who the publisher is – this gives some a leg up on bookshelf access and the ability to be reviewed by the media.

Who the book’s editor is – the quality of a book’s editing can dictate success; and a connected editor can lobby for more marketing budget for a book.

If a publicist is hired or used – having a pro advocate for your book can make a big difference.

Money – funds for advertising, traveling, promoting, and hyping a book is a huge factor.

Many of you may have answered book reviews as a big factor in a book’s success. Yes -- and -- no.

It depends on:

·         Who reviewed the book and their influence or size of following.
·         If the review was positive or negative.
·         The number of reviews garnered.

But plenty of books succeed with few reviews or some nasty ones.  Why? Because you can do so many things to promote or sell a book, including:

·         Speaking.
·         Advertising.
·         Blogging.
·         Podcasting.
·         Social Media.
·         Traditional Media.
·         Digital Media.
·         Bookstore & Library Appearances.
·         Word-of-Mouth.
·         Hitting a Bests-Seller List.
·         Winning an Award.

Many good books lack reviews – they didn’t send books in time or to the right person – or couldn’t afford to reach a lot of reviewers. Or the reviewers ignorantly chose not to review them – or were so overwhelmed by submissions that they didn’t really choose but merely stopped looking.

What really determines your book’s fate?

Your book.


That’s it.

No excuses. No complaints.

Overcome the barriers.

Change people’s perceptions.

Push hard and relentlessly.

Good should win out over mediocrity.

Ok, but let’s be realistic. Some people start out with an edge, some with a deficit. I get it. But you can’t stop there and forever give up to a rigged process. You need to show people why your book matters – and why they should want or need it. If you don’t lobby for your book, no one else will.

Do some books that are nothing special, maybe even downright bad, sometimes get media coverage, book sales, and even critical acclaim? Sure. Happens all of the time. Work around it.

You determine your book’s fate. What’s it gonna be?


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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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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