Pick a Title, Any Title
You only have so many titles to market to the public. How do you choose the right ones and how do you further their cause?
It’s never an easy decision. One title you might acquire reads beautifully, but where’s the platform for marketing it? The author doesn’t exactly seem television-interview friendly. Another title has a famous person behind it, but it’s missing a little thing called substance.
These are the dilemmas publishers face every day, and although choosing a title is certainly not easy, several publishers with a number of best sellers under their belts say that there are certain steps you can take to increase your chances of selecting titles with the greatest likelihood of success.
A simple edge
Doug Armato, director of University of Minnesota Press, says sometimes publishers just miss one simple point—as in, does the book actually have one? “I think a book has to have real knowledge and, for us, it has to advance our understanding of something that actually matters,” he says.
Margo Baldwin, president and publisher of Chelsea Green Publishing—which has published a number of titles that have made it onto national best-seller lists—feels that it comes down to a difference of opinion. She believes that publishers are forgetting to be different. “We had a book that we seriously were considering on global warming, but it just wasn’t setting itself apart,” she says. “Sometimes you get so excited about a subject matter that you just don’t realize you’re rehashing old stuff.”
Armato says one case study that illustrates the importance of this point involved “The Wellstone Way,” a book on political strategy. “We wanted to sell 3,000 copies, and we ended up doing 16,000-17,000,” he says. “It was a manual for running a political campaign, but [because it showed how to do] this without contributions and media buys as one of the focal points, it stood out for people. It shows that by giving a book just one or two modifications, as opposed to making it completely off the wall, you can increase its marketability.”