Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Target Your Book

If you've never published a book, you might not realize the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into getting your book into the hands of potential readers. Beyond the traditional methods such as catalog sales or book reviews in respected journals, my e-mail box is always full of other suggestions from fellow writers: You Tube trailers, networking on Facebook or Twitter, how to create virtual library visits through online chat rooms.

An article in this morning's paper provided a new venue for aspiring authors: try selling your book at Target. The column, "Target Can Make Sleepy Titles Into Best Sellers" first ran in the NY Times on July 21. The author, columnist Motoko Rich, sites the runaway success story of "Sarah's Key." This story of an American journalist who investigates the 1942 roundup of Jews in Paris, was written by first-time novelist Taitiana De Rosnay. Sales were less than noteworthy until a committee of Target employees recommended it as a Bookmarked Club Pick.

The result? The publisher, St. Martin's Press, has sold 145,000 paperbacks which were produced exclusively for Target. The ordinary paperback edition has sold an additional 200,000 and it has spent months on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list.
Unlike a chain bookstore such as Barnes & Noble which carries about 200,000 titles in each location, Target only offers 2,500. Rich says, "By assembling a collection of books by unheralded authors, Target behaves more like an independent bookstore than like a mere retailer of mainstream must-haves..."

I find this thought intriguing. Here are employees of the nation's #2 discount store reading and selecting books which may have been neglected by major reviewers. Books which, if the numbers are correct, are hugely popular among mainstream readers.

It makes me wonder. Can I get my book about a fragile friendship between a 13-year-old white girl and a 14-year-old light skinned African American girl in the South in 1950 into this committee's hands? It's something to target.
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elysabeth said...

Cool blog posting - I'm struggling trying to "think outside the box" of where to get my books in the hands of the right readers. I hope that next year's homeschool conference will be better for me because I believe that is where I need to be - getting the homeschoolers interested in my books. I hope the welcome center event Friday is a good place to get my name out there too. So you see I keep thinking there are places I can be - and one of these days I'll make it where I'm supposed to be - E :)

Jean said...

Very interesting! Now, get this ms of mine to that agent who asked to see it, then head for Target to make friends with some employees!


Cate's Folly said...

Carol, absolutely fantastic blog!

This piece about Target is amazing -- I had no idea.

I grieve when wonderful books by people I know go out of print and often feel like there's a bottleneck between what people would love to read and what they can find. I know it's all changing...

Loved also your post about Frank McCourt.

I'll be back for more!

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