I'm doing a new thread for this article because I want people in the Forum to be aware of it. I do not always like Laura Miller at Salon.com when it comes to opinion pieces. However, this publishing article of hers I strongly suggest that everybody here read, all the way through, whether you are writing childrens/YA or not, whether you have any interest in The Hunger Games or not. Because it's going to explain some things to you about fiction publishing and why it works through weird methods. It will explain the chain of reserves of children's publishing through libraries and schools, but there are also exact parallels and factors in adult publishing. The early readers word of mouth is just through different, less numerous channels.
In particular, these quotes:
But before you get into that, it’s essential to grasp the central, maddening paradox that confronts all book marketers, from venerable New York publishing houses to tiny independent presses: The only thing that reliably sells books is word of mouth, preferably a personal recommendation from a trusted friend. The one successful mass-market book-promoting phenomenon of our time, the Oprah Book Club, was just that — an endorsement from someone with the very rare gift of convincing millions of people that they know her really well.
Advertising and reviews and flogging on Facebook or Twitter don’t help much unless the author already has a large following. A book demands more time and energy from its consumers than a movie or a song, and readers increasingly require a chorus of endorsements before they’re willing to try something new....Many of the most arcane practices of the publishing industry are methods for working around this dilemma.Sales representatives like Nikki Mutch, who gave Chittenden her copy of the manuscript for “The Hunger Games,” are a key conduit between publisher and bookseller, the crucial node where, if all goes well, in-house enthusiasm translates into real-world buzz. The title “sales rep,” with its Willy-Lomanesque connotations of briefcase-toting drudgery, doesn’t convey the persuasive mojo these men and women can wield; their credibility, if they use it wisely, can be immense. .....
“We got it in the hands of the right people. That’s what publishers do,” she said. “You’re leveraging one thing to build the next thing. You need the enthusiasm internally to convince that first layer of gatekeepers. Once you have the kudos of those people, you can get these people, and so on.” “The viral world changes monthly,” said Scholastic’s Coun, “so our marketing has to change along with it. Still, the traditional thing — you read the book and it’s a great book — is what’s going to sell it the most.”The article is factual, accurate and will give you a better idea of how these weird things work, in my opinion.By now you’ve probably noticed that two prominent elements of the book-publishing landscape — Amazon and ebooks — have yet to crop up in this story.