First of all, Happy New Year, and I so apologize for being absent for such a long hiatus. I’ve been somewhat at a loss as to what to post recently, but I received some in person comments about the last one so I am going to expand that a bit.
What I’m talking about is the nature of a book. Is it a literary novel? A commercial novel? A memoir about growing up on a farm? Is it about politics or religion? Is it self-help or new age/personal growth? In a way what I’m getting at are the categories into which your book might be placed and therefore what market is going to be most accepting and interested in what you have to say.
Years ago when I was much more naive, than I am today (ahem), I thought I could attack the consumer marketplace as if all people could conceivably read all books. Well, I was wrong. A person who lives on a steady diet of Jayne Ann Krentz is probably not going to sample War and Peace. Someone who is a devout christian may not be interested in a book about the history of the crusades, just like a reader of international politics and policy probably isn’t going to pick up something on the philosophies of Islamic principles.
Around the time I was thinking I could get everyone to read every book, The Long Tail came out, and I thought oh sure we can go to niche markets and work those angles until someday, somewhere along the line we build up enough word of mouth to get the masses interested, or we can try to book the Today show. I wasn’t happy with the longer term approach.
It definitely is more difficult to dissect a book and really think about who might read it and then promote to those groups (through publicity or marketing channels) but it will take a lot less time than back pedaling when you find that you’ve been selling to the wrong bunch.
I’ve worked with some commercial writers who bemoan the fact that they aren’t reviewed in the New Yorker…ok. On the other side of the coin, I’ve heard from literary writers that they want to be high up on the bestseller lists…ok. Unfortunately all books are not created equal and they aren’t going to achieve the same exact goals whether they be successes or failures. Some will cross over into all kinds of different markets and will get the attention and sales from a mass audience, but in the meantime look at the book, determine who might read it and what it is truly about, and then sell the heck out of it.