Saturday, September 5, 2009

Exposed: A Lie About Book Marketing

“A book won’t sell itself.” True or false?

False. Seems to me plenty of books sell themselves. Take The Portable Abraham Lincoln. He isn’t around to promote it, but it sells.

Ah, you say, but Lincoln was a public person, a man of great character, beautifully articulate, historic, famous, exceptional. I say, consider then a workaday trade paperback such as Letting Go: The Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years (Third Edition). A college administrator saw a need for this book, first published in 1997; it caught on; and 12 years later it still sells.

You reply: But there was a market just salivating for that book. Look then, I reply, at Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. That book (originally self-published) created its own market. Heck, it created its own industry; you can get it on audio CD, get workbooks, sequels, Morning Pages journals, and so on.

Yes, you say, but those books aren’t great literature. There’s no market for great literature. Bosh, I say. Has anybody who reads English gotten through this life without reading, somehow, To Kill a Mockingbird? At this moment it's at No. 509 on!

Yes, you say -- but that’s a really, really good book.

I say, your book will sell itself for a long, long time if you are a public person of great character, exceptional; or if there’s an untapped market for it; or if your book can create its own market; or if it’s a really, really good book. If your book possesses none of these qualities you should keep working until it does – if you want your book to sell itself.

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