As an author, it’s frustrating to assess the book market. It is a place to sell the book you are writing, or the book you just finished, but it’s more. It includes other books too – millions of them – and you wonder how your book fits in. But often it makes an author turn away with the firm conviction that marketing is for publishers, not authors.
Don’t fall for it. An author needs to know his book’s market.
When I was instructed to learn the book market, I was directed to the nearest large bookstore. There I was to browse for hours, learning which titles fit in each category, the designs used, and typical content and typical publishers for various genres.
While this was excellent advice, I found it intimidating view the whole market on display. At first glance, bright displays and staggering quantities were stunning. It seemed impossible to even gain a book’s entry into the store, let alone sell the book there.
With time you learn to go beyond the global view and concentrate on one genre. Study the titles carefully. Apply critical skills. What is missing? How would your book fit in? What is its original contribution – something you can use in “selling” it to a prospective agent, publisher and – most importantly - reader?
Later, thinking back, ask how your book fits with other titles in that genre. Keep that assessment in mind when you prepare your query letter.
Read a few pages of newly released books. Does the language in your book measure up? If it seems cumbersome and wordy, you need to study the differences and rewrite the text. If you’re from the “old school,” you may be surprised at the changes.
Once you’ve achieved a realistic perspective on your book’s position in the marketplace, you can access agents and/or publishers and, with a little bit of luck, once they adopt your book, you’ll learn even more as they tell you more about your book in relation to the market.
See you in the bookstore!