Monday, December 7, 2009

Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire, Gimme That Which I Desire

It can't really be debated that the number one piece of fuel behind any book is word of mouth. Twilight wouldn't be what it is today without hundreds of thousands of squeeing, hormonally driven teenage girls wailing to their friends about how they should read this book with the sparkling granite god. But all the talk in the world can't save some books. So what is it that makes a book so big so early on? This Publisher's Weekly article kind of breaks down what happened pre-pub for a handful of books including Hush, Hush and Ruined. By the way, there is a sequel to Hush, Hush coming out next year. I don't think I've seen that information around yet but it's mentioned in the article.

In-house buzz during acquisitions gets the fires started for many debut books. You should have seen the YA Buzz Panel sweating over Lips Touch: Three Times and how everyone in the office at Scholastic was fanning themselves with the manuscript. So when you have that many people raring to go to promote what they deem as such an awesome book, they're going to put a lot of time in making sure the word gets out there and in as many places as possible. Does that mean the books that fall flat or get lost in the shuffle don't have that drive running behind them? Not necessarily.

There really is no tried and true method that makes books boom. Publishers can't predict what will sell big and what won't. They can hope. They can pray. But it comes down to the rest of us to make it work. Yes, major pushes pre-pub are a huge help. If no one knows the book is coming out, it's not going to help it sell, now is it? But even books with less than stellar publicity behind them still hit big. They're not called sleeper hits for nothing.

It's also up to the author to make sure that the book stays on the minds of the readers. The attention span of the world today is exceptionally short so it's going to be a tough job keeping their words at the forefront of scatter-brained minds. Of course, they utilize mediums that they know their target audience will access - Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, websites. Whatever they can do, they do it. But even then that's not a guarantee of success.

What do you think makes a book huge? The stars aligning just right? Timing? Word of mouth? Sassy websites? All of the above? What drives you to pick up a book? Buzz? Others' reviews? Just plain old curiosity? The product has to hit a nerve in order to sell. What variables strike that nerve of yours?


ParaJunkee said...

I always wonder what they do differently for those HUGE books and the ones that just flop out. - Parajunkee

Steph Su said...

Dude, I've TOTALLY been wanting to blog about this subject as well. The whole "it" factor baffles me too. Yes, I would say that in-house acquisitions buzz definitely gets the ball rolling, because if you spend a huge amount of money to buy the right to publish an author's manuscript, then clearly you will do your utmost to promote and publicize it. So does the "it" factor have to do with the writing, or with the genre, for whatever niche it falls into in the consumer world? I. Don't. Know. Either! *rips hair out in frustration* Okay, just kidding. Hair will stay in. I will go and ponder more.

Liviania said...

Who doesn't wonder about this? And I do always remember that houses put a big push behind books that they think have that "it" factor. Yes, there are others that could use the publicity, but the house is doing as best it can and wouldn't promote anything the people in it didn't love.

LM Preston said...

If I knew this - I would sell that book for $1000 bucks a copy. LOL! Truth is, I think it's luck of the draw. Most books hit a cord that is not being tapped. All women love a good vampire love story or story for that matter. I believe Twilight is the biggest one since Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire. So I don't believe anyone knows.

Donna (Bites) said...

It's so compelling and so frustrating at the same time. There's got to be something connecting all of these books but that some *thing* appears to be alluding us all. Perhaps it's something specific to each person. Perhaps that nerve, or chord, is hit the same way by different things. Whatever it is, it's killing me!

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