Monday, September 7, 2015

What is the No. #1 Reason a Book Fails?

By Michelle Gamble, CEO, 3L Publishing

What is the answer to that question?

Poor writing
Weak characters
Uninteresting story
Lack of pacing

Would you believe the answer is “none of those things make a book fail?” Are you wondering what does make a book fail or (to rephrase it positively) what makes it a top-seller?

The answer is cracker-jack public relations and marketing. P.T. Barnum put it best, “Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land – it largely increases the product.” In my estimation that is a crass way of saying (in book-ease), let people know you have a book and increase its sales.

Books aren’t the same as selling widgets. You can advertise a widget pretty easily, and consumers caught up in the idea or the sensation or fad will invest their dollars. Readers though are interesting audiences to crack open. An advertisement for a book won’t convince a reader it’s any good. Book advertising will increase brand visibility, and that’s a marketing term we’ll reserve for another article on the subject. Book advertising WON’T give a book CREDIBILITY – book reviews give books credibility.

Credibility convinces readers (especially in the era of self-publishing) that a book is good, mediocre, or bad. Reputable book reviewers’ endorsements of a book will increase interest and hence sales. Readers believe book reviews because reviewers were not paid to review the book – well, most of the time not paid.

With so many self-published books on the market, a new type of PAID book reviewer (e.g., Clarion) has emerged on the market. I’m not a fan of PAID reviews. When an author presents a manuscript with one of these reviews (and as a publisher I know the paid reviewers’ brands), red flags fly. Is this book legitimate? My first thought, and my second thought is a great book should be able to get reviews from credible sources.

Now let’s say the book is great. The author stands behind it, but it’s still self-published (professional efforts in self-publishing aren’t a problem and actually open often-closed doors to new writers); but the author still can’t find an audience. The author doesn’t even know how to get reviews from credible sources. So what happens? A great book goes unread. An unread book without an audience is literally pointless. Isn’t the idea of writing a book to get people to read it? Now sometimes the goal is to get family and friends to read the book – and that’s fine if it’s the actual intent behind it.

New authors who find themselves in the disappointing positions of finding their books ranked on Amazon in the millions (meaning no readership) may give up. They don’t even know where to begin the promotional process. Maybe they even invested $200 in one of those blog tours for authors and found their rankings remain stagnant. Now what?

This news may frustrate those with no money to invest in their books, but it’s the reality all business people face on a daily basis (and it’s very cliché): YOU HAVE TO INVEST MONEY TO MAKE MONEY, which is the essential truth to all business endeavors. And yes authors, the minute you put the word “author” behind your name you are officially a businessperson (you just might not have realized it).

Whether you are published traditionally or use self-publishing or hybrid publishing methods, you will have to promote your book to find an audience. Some books will find an audience easier than others. The best way to find an audience is to use traditional public relations and marketing services. Now you can try on your own, but unless you have the specialized education and knowledge in the area, you will not know where to start or what the industry expects.

Public relations for books is a specialty under a specialty. It means that while a public relations pro can promote products or services, it’s best to find one who knows the book and publishing world. Book media relations for national and regional media (print, broadcast and online) requires knowledge of a massive marketplace – and sometimes in the case of niche books, a niche within a niche.

One article cannot possibly break down this profession into pieces to be easily digested by the average author. After all public relations is a degree program offered in higher education. Book public relations is also a specialty one learns in a crash-course called “doing it” or we could call it a “process of discovery”.

What is amazing: one well-placed professional book review can ignite sales in a big way. Two, three, four or even five reviews can create what is called the “snowball effect” or “momentum”. Imagine if you will the snowball picking up more and more speed and getting bigger and bigger as it rolls downhill. When multiple reviewers praise a book the outcome can be bigger and bigger sales – and ultimately an Amazon book that cracks the top 10.

Are you an author? Is your book selling? Do you even have legitimate reviews? Would you like to get featured on national TV shows or magazines? Would you like to be reviewed by the Critic’s Circle or Fresh Fiction or the Author’s Show? Would you love to see a no. #1 ranking next to your book’s name on Amazon? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, 3L Publishing can do all of those things – and we’ve done it many times over for authors and writers.

Contact us today for your consultation at 916-300-8012. Ask for Michelle Gamble or Scott D. Roberts by sending an email to We are also holding a workshop titled “How to Write a Media Kit” for books. For more information, please log onto

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