You may be familiar with the concept of zero-sum, you know, where life is an either-or choice, where finite resources dictate that if one wins then the other loses. For instance, look at the election—second place sends you home. For a single job opening at a company, only one of a hundred candidates can get the job. Only one person can be married to you — unless in Utah. Is the book industry a zero-sum game?
Some believe book publicity is a zero-sum game, especially when it comes to
prime book marketing real estate such as The New York Times Book Review, The
Today Show, Josh Rogan’s Podcast or NPR’s All Things Considered. But the truth
is, there are endless ways and resources to market a book.
Getting on a specific TV show may be a zero-sum game, as you have a limited number of time slots dedicated to author interviews, so a handful shall win and the vast majority shall lose. So what? You have a million other scenarios and options to achieve your goals. Unlimit your thinking.
Sure you will have to work harder and smarter to make up for a lost opportunity with a key venue such as a spot on CBS This Morning. But you still have hundreds of major media outlets to pursue and thousands more of decent ones. Then you have — literally — millions of blogs, podcasts, videos, speaking engagements, ad opportunities, seminars, webinars, conferences, Twitter accounts, Facebook connections, influencer endorsements, book clubs, and other outlets of opportunity to get your message out there with impact.
Book publicity is not a zero-sum game. But it is one with a hierarchy. It may take exposure on dozens or scores of second-tier media outlets to equal the reach of one A-list media outlet. The same is true when ir comes to getting published.
Book publishing, though it offers many ways to get published, truthfully, is still an industry dominated by the Big 5 — Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, and Simon & Schuster. More than 80% of all major best-seller lists are filled with their books. They win the awards and command the lion’s share of major media book review space. But all that said, it is not zero-sum.
These publishers can publish as many books as they want to. Plus, they are not the only game in town. Indie presses, university presses, small presses, overseas presses, and Amazon offer alternatives. Plus, let’s not forget all of the books produced by hybrids and the self-published market.
However, there is a lot of competition for everything — publishing, shelf space, traditional media, social media, speaking, etc. Book publishing is very Darwinian. It is survival of the fittest — and the intelligent, persistent, optimistic, resourceful, hardest working, creative, and luckiest.
More than one can “win” the book world game. And there is more than one way to win. The only thing that limits you is yourself. Get past your mental barriers and the sky is the limit!
Read, Read, Read!!
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his genius. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. 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 The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.