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March 18th, 2012, 10:01 AM #1
A Good Article on Fiction Publishing
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.”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.
March 18th, 2012, 11:35 AM #2
- Join Date
- Sep 2002
- Charter Member, Restore Pluto Initiative
And, at the heart of it all, is a very good book without which the rest doesn't work.
March 18th, 2012, 12:23 PM #3
Interesting how the networks play an integral part in selling a story. I don't think that aspect will change, regardless of how the traditional industry answers the challenge of a changing marketplace.
This is a good reason why attending conventions and getting on blogs is very important in the electronic age.
Article appreciated, Kat.
March 18th, 2012, 04:14 PM #4
So you can't "get" on the blogs. The bloggers have to develop an interest in looking at the book, have to like the book and then pass word of mouth on about the book. You can go to a convention and nothing may happen, which is expensive, but that doesn't mean a convention can't get someone interested, leading to word of mouth.
Christopher Paolini and his parents flogged Eragon by having Paolini go to schools and libraries regionally and put on a reading show and trying to interest librarians, children's bookstores, etc. in the book. Those efforts could have simply flatlined despite the best efforts. But the book connected with kids and others who talk to kids, and they sold 10,000 copies. That and the word of mouth buzz got the big reprint sale, and word of mouth again made the book a success on a wider scale. Amanda Hocking also saw a large uptick of sales on her YA works once a number of bloggers reviewed her books. But she couldn't make those bloggers do it. She could only try to interest them and then hope they'd do positive word of mouth. Once they did, the teens did the rest. Larger publishers can do this on a larger, more global scale. They do know the best people to hit up. But none of it works unless people like a book and talk about it and while children's has a whole other set of channels for this to happen, it works the same in both kids and adult fiction.
And it's not a matter of the "best" book, since no one agrees what that is. It's a matter of material connecting with readers and there isn't just one sort of material that does this or does this with large groups.
March 18th, 2012, 05:01 PM #5
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Los Angeles
An example from films is "Star Wars." It has become such a phenomenon today that few remember the film world before it. The producers who gave George Lucas the budget for it did so reluctantly because they were sure it would fail. But he had been such a success with "American Graffiti" that they were afraid that if they didn't humor him with this "vanity project" that he'd go to someone else with whatever "Graffiti" follow-up he did. It would (they thought) come out, fail, and he would shame-facedly make what they wanted him to make. They were so sure of its failure they let him have the rights for ancillary products: toys, books, t-shirts, etc. A huge multi-billion-dollar mistake.
Authors cold-bloodedly trying to create a best-seller can't do it. It has to first warm their own blood first. It must obsess you so much you MUST finish writing the book, putting into it all your soul and self. If you don't love your books first it's unlikely anyone else will.
March 18th, 2012, 05:48 PM #6
Word of mouth is definitely the best magic.
Kids (9 & 12 yrs) in my family have been going on and on about The Hunger Games for the last couple of months. Their father (early 40s) couldn't resist knowing what the kids were so turned on about, so he picked up a copy. A few days ago, his jaw had dropped to his chest. He, too, was so blown away.
So here I am, Sunday afternoon, taking a break... from reading The Hunger Games. It truly is that good. The story is as gripping as an octopus with a bottle of Super Glue, yet it also fulfills Ms. Collins' didactic aims. The kids reading this book will never forget it -- therefore their future political, social and environmental alignments have been deeply influenced.
Me? Well, I'm right now kind of in the process of recommending it, aren't I? And the origin of the thread that got it going is untraceable.