02 October 2009

Publisher's Numbers Game

by Tim Baker

I heard that Dan Brown’s latest book was at the top of the best seller list within hours of its release. Surely an admirable accomplishment but the fact itself is somewhat misleading. Statistics must be looked at from all angles before they can be given any credence. Before I continue I would like to state that I mean no disrespect to Mr. Brown, whose work I greatly admire.

As I understand it, the Big-Box bookstores deal with the large publishers. The large publishers deal with the major league agents, who in turn push their big-name clients. The system is practically designed to feed itself. Store “A” has to buy x-copies of Novel “B” written by Joe Author if they want to do business with Publisher “C”. So when Mr. Self-Published comes along and tries to get his book on the shelf he is politely told to peddle his prose elsewhere. Without the proper clout behind him he has no chance of seeing his book anywhere but on-line and in the small “Mom and Pop” stores (and even that isn’t easy).

It’s a numbers game.
A thought occurred to me today about this numbers game…

The vast majority of book sales are created by public awareness.

You want proof? Have you purchased my book yet? Have you ever even heard of it? All right then. If more people knew about my book I’d probably have more sales and each sale could potentially lead to more sales as word spreads. Pick your clichĂ©…wildfire, snowballs whatever – it’s all about publicity, promotion and public awareness.

What if we, the self-published, banded together and created our own numbers? Is it possible for us to decrease the odds a little?

I’m not saying that we could be the David who slays “Goliath’s Book Store” but we could certainly help ourselves by increasing our visibility.

What I think we need to do is band together and look at each other as allies rather than competition. I will gladly put a link to your website on mine if you do the same for me. I’ll become a fan on facebook, follow you on twitter and myspace contribute to your blog. All that stuff – if you’ll reciprocate. And I’m sure there’s other things I haven’t thought of – that’s why I’m looking to you.

The power of the internet is incredibly vast and if used properly could help us all. I would like to enlist all self-published writers, freelancers and hopefuls to help start a mass movement that can only help us all.

Let’s get some ideas going, share some thoughts and help each other out without charging a percentage. Let’s face it – if we could afford an agent we wouldn’t be reading this and thinking…”Hmmm, this guy might have something here.”


  1. But doesn't every organization start out that way?

  2. Thanks Tim,

    I think this is a very inspiring article. I don't know if it is how everyone starts out, but I think that anyone can benefit from working together.

    I think we should give it a try.