Reflections on that last post • 22 September 2008 • The SnowBlog
Reflections on that last post
So I read through the post below once I'd published it. A big question raised itself: what makes a bestseller? The unavoidable conclusion, from my experience to date, is that it's actually very little to do with the publisher. Snowbooks' bestsellers have been, in volume sales order (which is certainly not the same as profit order) Adept, Boxing Fitness, Plotting for Beginners, The Other Eden and The Needle in the Blood. Snowbooks has sort of intervened with each one - but have we really been the catalyst for their success? We've done appropriate covers; given our twopenneth on not much more than spelling and grammar; gathered a handful of endorsements and reviews for each; and made sure that timely and compelling sales information has been communicated to retailers and the trade. We've stumped up the cash, up front, for printing and promotion. Is that a lot of work? Have those activities made all the difference? Only one of those titles has benefitted from significant intervention from us - intervention without which the book wouldn't exist - and that's Boxing Fitness.
It certainly seems like each time we create a book we put a huge amount of work, time, money and effort in - particularly for four colour non fiction. But I wonder - how much value do we really add?
I suspect that the things we do which matter most and which have the greatest effect are:
1) Retailer and sales connections
2) Cover design
3) Stumping up the cash.
All else being equal, I reckon Rob, Sarah, Sarah, and Sue could have self published their books to look exactly like our editions. They might well have come unstuck at the actual selling part of it, though - and, of course, getting the books into stores in sufficient quantities to be noticed has always been our main priority. The question about what happens once the book's in store is pretty much down to the cover, I think (which includes any reviews and endorsements we might have garnered).
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. What do you think makes a bestseller? Why do you think some books take off and others don't? What's the point in publishers? Do you think publishers add sufficient value or would the world be better off with more self-published books? All interesting questions.