Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A miss is as good as a mile

It's an old proverb but as true now as it was the day that it was coined. From the perspective of a book publisher, it means missing the market - a case of not understanding demand or missing out on a fickle fad or trend. Explaining it is also a problem the aforesaid publisher can have with authors whose egos bizarrely stand between them and literary success.

The problem lies with the definition of what constitutes 'well written'. A contract may be well-written in that it is clear, covers all eventualities and is fair to both parties, a wedding speech may be well-written in that it embarrasses the bride or groom by just the right amount without its cringe factor exceeding the socially acceptable norm, and a song can contain lyrics which are truly meaningful to its listeners. Being well-written doesn't make any of these three examples worth turning into a book - this is the message that publishers frequently finds themselves having to communicate to authors who've convinced themselves (or allowed themselves to be convinced) that their novel is 'hot stuff' and destined for great things.

Aim carefully!
The thing is that it might be - but often not in its presented condition. A canny publisher will be au fait with the latest trends in the market and fully aware of what the public is buying en masse. A new book may tap into this demand but then deviate to such a degree that the publisher knows full well that the novel's publication would be a frustrating and fruitless experience. For obvious reasons, that's not a decision which some authors find easy to accept.

While originality is not to be discouraged in author submissions, in most cases an excess of it is counter-productive. This is the point - the book may be extremely well written but, through being 'weird and wonderful' (in the eyes of the average reader), it renders itself non-commercial and against the primary raison d'ĂȘtre of the publisher which, like any business, is simply to be a profitable enterprise.

Another reason for authors missing the target occurs when they decide to mix genres. An erotic space opera family saga or a western romantic crime story may sound original but they’re also highly confused. Each theme will, in principle, appeal to three discrete markets yet each of these three markets will be 'turned off' by the other two genres represented in the book. For example, someone who wants a crime story is unlikely to be keen on reading pages of cow-poking and bodice-ripping. While a book publisher can see this from their more remote and 'universal' perspective, the average author, having invested months of hard effort in producing their book, will not want to hear that what they have written just won't sell.

It's so, so easy to go off on a tangent and anyone can do it - even the most experienced and famous of authors. That's why the lasting advice has to be to listen to the words of your friendly publisher because they know the market best. After all, you want a hit, not a miss.

Any Subject Books is both a publisher and provider of self-publishing services. New authors are welcome to submit their books for inclusion or independent authors may be interested in the range of publishing packages which are on offer - everything from brainstorming and ghost-writing to editing, cover design, blog tour arranging, distribution, book trailers and autograph hosting.

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