Will My Book Sell?
One of the constant struggles that writers find themselves embroiled in is the clash between craft and marketability. Often preliminary discussions about a manuscript, whether in the edit or ghostwriting phase, arrives at that very important question: After all of this work, will my book sell?
Any ghostwriter who pretends to have an easy answer to that question is sorely mistaken (or they’re overselling their abilities, we’ll tackle that later on). Even casual observers these days are armed with more marketing numbers and analytics than ever before, but still, we can never tell.
The element of surprise remains a strong part of the publishing game. No one knows what will hit and, consequently, no one can predict a miss either.
What I like to tell clients is that with a properly executed plan for their manuscript, we can narrow the wide range of outcomes. You wouldn’t build a house without an architect. You wouldn’t prepare a top shelf cut of meat without knowing cook temps and times.
Why would you attack your book publishing endeavor without a plan?
One of the pillars of a successful book is a properly handled manuscript. You simply cannot fool readers. Here is where the craft versus marketability argument becomes absurd.
These are not mutually exclusive. These two aspects are actually symbiotic. Attention to craft is the first and most critical element of marketability.
The second pillar I believe is defining your audience. It isn’t enough to say, my book is for “readers” or “fiction lovers”. I would go so far to say that simply targeting “fantasy” fans isn’t enough.
The book market is a buyers market and readers are savvy — very savvy. Everyone who buys off of Amazon or browses the shelves knows their search terms. Your reader knows the difference between “high fantasy” and “urban fantasy” and there is no way around this reality: you need to know it too.
The last pillar of a successful plan is to think in terms of quality and not quantity. I know a publisher out there (that will remain nameless) and they sell themselves as an all in one book publisher and marketer. How do they market their client’s books? Everyone that has worked with them tells the same story: they send out a single email blast that reaches a few hundred cold emails (and probably gets a few undeliverable kick backs too).
This never works. Never works. A few hundred cold emails is (almost) as worthless as sitting on your book. Just like readers, buyers know exactly what they want. If your dream editor isn’t taking submissions, there is no point in sending them a query email. It’s just annoying.
Similarly, if an editor is looking for “romance” and your “high fantasy” novel only peripherally involves love, don’t send them a query. You will only make them curse you.
Believe me. Go get a drink with a submissions editor and ask them their pet peeves. Blanket submissions are close to, if not the top of that list.
So to the question – Will my book sell? – to give yourself the best shot at success, have a plan. Be realistic. You’ are not the only person out there with a great book. Be the only one out there marketing their great book smartly.
Another thing you can do to increase your chances is to let a professional like me help guide you through the process. Experience counts so don’t hesitate to get in touch!