I'm ENORMOUSLY grateful for this posting--indeed, before I post your comments, I'd like to ask, in the interest of being as precise as possible: would you do us all the enormous favor of providing more details? You mention eight printings; it would be enormously useful to know more--let's discuss this offline. Please email me at email@example.com. I guarantee your anonymity.
"To say that ads don't sell books is a ridiculously counterintuitive and ultimately nihilistic assertion. It is to assert that the entire edifice that capitalism is built on has no form or substance. It is, speaking plainly, wrong. If ads don't sell books, then book catalog pages don't persuade booksellers to carry books. If ads don't sell books, sales conference presentations do not persuade reps to push a book more aggressively. Indeed, if ads don't sell books, information has no influence over consumer behavior. When I worked at at a top New York commercial house, we told authors "Ads don't sell books" to assuage hard feelings that their budgets had been cut. As an agent, I see it from the other side of the fence. But my best data comes from a foray onto my clients' side of the fence. When my own book was published -- a work of history published not long ago by [an imprint of a major New York publisher]-- the publisher aggressively advertised the book -- Wall Street Journal, NYTBR, elsewhere. Though I had no name to trade on, the book smoked through eight printings. We had few reviews. No majors. The only broad exposure it got, beyond a BookTV appearance, were those ads. Obviously what happened was something mysterious, magical, and beyond the ken of what too many publishers claim to understand: newspaper reader sees ad; newspaper reader reads ad; newspaper reader says to self, "Looks like an interesting book; would like to read book"; newspaper reader buys book. What is so inscrutable, unlikely, or mysterious about the above scenario? Why shoulds its underlying dynamic not be the rule? The burden of persuasion, it seems to me, should lie with the promulgators of the pseudoscience that ads don't sell books.That's anecdotal evidence, so here's a counterbalancing sweeping generalization: Book editors -- who as a class are not widely acclaimed for their facility with the engines of commerce, hence their career avocation -- claim that ads don't sell books because they cannot reliably predict the extent to which any given ad will sell any given book. That's fair to say. But it's far from the more sweeping assertion that we are frequently asked to accept as conventional wisdom, if not an entirely settled question."
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
- ► 2005 (75)
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- ▼ November (13)