Power Book Publicity Tips for September 2013

Bestseller Breakdown: What It Takes to Become a Bestseller and Why It Does(n’t) Matter
by Carly Willsie, Greenleaf Book Group

Writers dream of plastering the words “Bestselling Author” next to their name on business cards, resumes, books, blog posts, photos, and virtually every other place their moniker appears. And they can’t be blamed—that phrase counts for a lot, especially for authors hoping to attract customers with a “national bestseller” banner on their cover. But what exactly does it mean to be a bestseller? And how much does it really matter?

 Books are traditionally considered bestsellers when they meet one of three unofficial requirements: (1) placement on the New York Times bestseller list; (2) placement on theWall Street Journal bestseller list; or (3) placement on the USA Today bestseller list. And, if we’re being frank, the biggest prestige comes in making the illustrious New York Timeslist.

 So what does it take to get on one of these things? The number of sold books required to achieve bestseller status is virtually indefinable. The numbers necessary are relative to which other books are in the market the same week as yours. Books on the very same bestseller list can have drastically different sales counts. In his blog post “Bestseller: How Many Copies Do You Have to Sell to Become a Bestseller?” Jeffrey Krames sites a week in August 2010 in which Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love topped the lists, selling 140,000 copies. The fifth bestselling book that same week sold less than 11,000 copies—a 129,000 difference from the first-place seller.

 Genre lists are an entirely different ballgame. The New York Times separates books into categories, and the number of books sold required to hit each of those genre categories is immensely different. For that same week in 2010 Krames discussed, Tom Rath’sStrengthsFinder 2.0 topped the business category, selling just over 9,000 copies. Number two on the list, The Big Short by Michael Lewis, measured in at 4,200.

 It’s also important to note that bestseller lists only reflect velocity of sales—not overall success of a book. A title could be a “tortoise seller,” moving eight hundred books per week for an entire year but never making any of the lists. Not all sales are reported to the lists, either. Each list has its own way of determining quantity, usually through a catalog of sales reported to them by selected bookstores, and none of the lists are comprehensive. In fact, sales through specialty stores like Walmart, Target, and Christian bookstores are usually not collected, and for some authors, those can be the locations of the majority of their sales.

In some ways, bestseller status is becoming less relevant in this age of ebooks, apps, and digital downloads. Can a free ebook downloaded 100,000 times in a week be considered a bestseller? Not according to the New York Times, but it certainly must have been one of the most-read books of the week. In the long run, that will matter a lot more.

 The Times only recently started including ebook sales on their list, and ebook sales for advice books, how-to books, children’s books, and graphic books are not captured at all. Although ebooks only account for about five percent of overall book sales right now, that number is sure to rise.

The Times list is also backlogged by several weeks. Sales for the week ending August 6 won’t appear in the print edition of the Times until August 21. In our digital world, trends can rise and fall with almost terrifying rapidity (silly bands, anyone?); sometimes what was selling three weeks ago has no bearing on today.


What Book Format Do Media Contacts Prefer: Print Or E-books?                                    by Sandy Poirier-Diaz, President, Smith Publicity

I asked our team of publicists what types of books media contacts prefer, print or e-book. The answer is—it depends.

Every day in our book marketing and pitching efforts, Smith Publicity publicists contact book reviewers, bloggers, book interest media, magazine and newspaper editors, television and radio producers and freelancers covering a wide range of topics. Our goal is to secure meaningful media coverage for our clients in the form of book reviews, recommendations, broadcast interviews, expert commentary, interviews, feature stories, byline article/op-ed placements, etc. Along with creating timely and compelling hooks and story ideas, part of the process is offering authors’ books for review—and letting the media contacts know the formats available, such as e-book and/or print.

Who requests printed review copies more often?

In general, media working on longer lead and more in-depth feature stories still tend to ask for print versions. We see this trend especially for print newspapers and magazines. These editors have expressed to us that e-book PDF files (which are then downloaded to an e-book reading device or read from a computer) can get lost in a barrage of email exchanges, while books are solid, and physically in front of them.

Interestingly, book bloggers requesting books for potential reviews are generally asking for the print versions. Feedback from this group tells us that the cover, paper, typography—the overall look and feel to the book—is still important to the experience. And even though this group is computer savvy, often communicating with their audiences solely by Internet, they still overwhelmingly request a print version for review. Although most traditional book review outlets like Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal have opened the doors to accept e-books for consideration, when speaking with our contacts, print versions are often still the preference.

Who requests e-book review copies more often?

The media most often requesting e-books are producers, reporters, editors and freelancers on a tight deadline. Although these requests come in for both fiction and non-fiction titles, e-books from non-fiction or “expert” authors’ are in the highest demand. Having an e-book to share absolutely helps an author’s chance for media attention.

We upload many of our clients’ books to NetGalley—an innovative online service and connection point for book publishers, reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators that can be an excellent addition to a book marketing campaign. This is a wonderful venue to quickly share e-books with professionals in the position to review and recommend books. This service allows authors to enjoy exposure with Goodreads and Amazon reviewers, and for libraries, bookstores, and schools to consider a book for their customers and users.

We love sending e-books as are we are quickly able to deliver a book in the hands of interested media while this interest is hot. This exchange offers a tremendous advantage to an author too in decreasing costs (and time!) to print and mail a book.

Give the media choices and make it easy

As technology and reading habits change, having both print and e-book versions of books available for the media makes it easier for a book to get to the top of the pile.

One final note for authors sharing e-books for review: make it simple. The more barriers, codes, special apps or unknown software that needs to be downloaded to read a book, the less likely a book is to be opened or reviewed. With thousands of books published each week in the United States alone vying for potential coverage, the easier you make it for the media to see a book, the better.


Using Your Book to Build Your Brand and Income? Consider Attending the 2013 Greenleaf Author Summit™

Join us at the 2013 Greenleaf Author Summit™—in Austin, TX September 25th to 27th—to take your business to the next level. Greenleaf Book Group is a seven-time Inc. 500/5000 company with dozens of books on the New York Times Bestseller List. In an unstable publishing climate, Greenleaf and its authors have continued to thrive. Now Greenleaf is opening its doors to business leaders, speakers, and writers to present a three-day event centered around three core themes: Ideas, Influence, and Income™.

World-class guest speakers (including Smith Publicity!) and Greenleaf’s expert staff will present a program designed to teach authors and experts how to. . .

  • create differentiated content that builds their platforms as thought leaders

  • spread their ideas and expertise, and

  • monetize those ideas and products.

Your ticket provides full access to expert advice and insider knowledge, with no up-sell or obligation. The Greenleaf Author Summit™ will provide interactive learning sessions and networking opportunities via three days of actionable content designed to help experts define their market and product positioning and drive their expertise and ideas. These insights and connections will make a significant difference in your business within twelve months.

We here at Smith Publicity have had the honor and privilege of promoting dozens and dozens of Greenleaf authors for many years. We cannot speak highly enough about the service, quality and support they provide their authors to help them reach their individual goals.

If you are interested in attending the summit, Smith Publicity is offering a discount:


Smith Publicity’s discount code is: GBGSmith


Get your book into the right hands

Smith Publicity wants your book(s) and/or eBook(s) at nine great fairs this fall as part of Combined Book Exhibit (CBE) services. Have your book displayed at a regional, national or even international book trade show.

Smith Publicity is an official reseller of CBE services. This popular book marketing service is available to any author or publisher looking to reach additional audiences via national and international book trade shows.

The prices to have your book(s) on display range from $175 to $315 per book.

Below are the list of upcoming trade shows and the deadlines to register:

2013 New York Library Association: DEADLINE: 9/8

2013 Illinois Library Association: DEADLINE: 9/18

2013 California Library Association:DEADLINE: 10/1

2013 China Shanghai Intl Children’s Book Fair: DEADLINE: 10/1

2013 New York State Reading Association: DEADLINE: 10/4

2013 Pennsylvania Library Association: DEADLINE: 10/7

2013 New England Library Association: DEADLINE:10/10

2013 American Association of School Librarians: DEADLINE: 10/24

2013 Guadalajara International Book Fair: DEADLINE: 11/4

For more information visit our website.