Pick a Title, Any Title
Nantier also warns that when it comes to artists you select, you can’t set the bar as high on their promotional abilities. “It’s a plus when the author can do interviews, but we won’t [overlook] an artist because they may not be the best self-promoter. Artists are not of the mind to go to pitch themselves and be great publicists.”
O.J., oy vey
One thing most seem to agree on is that the O.J. Simpson book “If I Did It,” purchased by former HarperCollins imprint ReganBooks, is a cautionary tale to learn from, not to repeat.
Baldwin, whose company published international best-selling author Naomi Wolf’s “End of America,” says, “Obviously some publishers are in this business [only] to make money, but there’s always supposed to be at least the appearance that you’re trying to do something of quality. This book breaks that trust with the book buyer.”
Armato looked at the O.J. book deal more from a bleak business standpoint, seeing it as continuing the trend of the quick sale without a backlist future. “It was an attempt at selling a large number of books, probably at a large discount,” he says. “After it stops selling, what do you get out of that? A waste of marketing dollars better spent on books with backlist possibilities.”
Todd Stocke, editorial director of Sourcebooks, which has had a number of New York Times Best Sellers throughout its history, commented that it’s something he’s seen before and expects will likely happen again—if not with just a little more tact. “I think it’s just cyclical, and I don’t think it’s a dramatically bad thing,” he admits. “There’s always been publishers capitalizing on the moment; that will never go away.”
As important as considering a book’s uniqueness and longevity, as well as
the author’s media-friendly nature and potential for grass-roots marketing, is being mindful of the direction you
will give your salespeople for your new titles. Stocke says one of the larger
mistakes is not thinking long-term.
“You have to find a book that salespeople will be able to stick with into the sell-through proposition and in many cases building a book and the author,” he says. “Too many publicity programs give up on backlists because they’re always being handed a new front list—don’t do that to them.”