Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Two Things I Don't Want to Hear

If you're wondering what I secretly wish I could say sometimes but cannot because it wouldn't exactly uphold my standards for customer service, I thought I would instead share some the absurdities on the blog. Then perhaps many of you will avoid the common pitfalls when you get me on the phone or in person. So, let's have some fun.

"My mother loves the book" aka peanut gallery focus groups. I completely love this one. Authors often try to sell me on how good their books are based on what I call "peanut gallery focus groups". They take their projects to family and close friends for feedback. You know your family and friends typically want to encourage and support you, right? When I hear this method as a benchmark for how great a book is, I shudder and have to refrain from making remarks. Focus groups are great. You should absolutely do a focus group for critiques, but your focus group should consist of unbiased associates who have no stake or vested interest in your "feelings" or more like hurting your feelings.

The next New York Times best seller. The minute I hear this proclamation, I immediately start thinking about lunch and how I can get out of this conversation. Let's get real for a moment. Do you think JK Rawling actually said to her publisher that Harry Potter was the next New York Times best seller? You know what I'm willing to bet? JK probably thought she had a great book and it would sell well -- and she might get off welfare. When you tell me with all assurance that yours in the next best seller, all it does is set up false expectations. I'm not suggesting you don't think big. I am suggesting you realize just how competitive this market is. Thousands, and I mean thousands of new books, are released each day. Authors who are appreciative of the good sales and maybe even the great sales will be easy to work with. The author who laments their inability to make the New York Times list will be a bear to work with; hence my desire for a quick exit and a trip to Big Patty's Pie Shack.

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