Bob Baker's Book Promotion Blog

Smashing the Book Competition Myth

There's a common refrain you hear in the book world about competition and the crowded marketplace. In particular, experts like to point out the number of new books that are published every year.

It used to be 150,000 new titles per year; now it's closer to a quarter million new books published worldwide every year. And, the gurus remind you, this is in addition to the millions of titles already in existence. (I think Amazon offers some 4 million titles.)

It's enough to scare off any would-be author and make indie publishers want to get out of the business while there's still time. The only thing is, there's a serious flaw with this logic. Let me explain ...

Yes, there are tons of books that get written and printed each year, especially now that people are learning about low-cost digital printing options. And because of the slew of companies that are eager to help you (for a fee) get your book into print. I admit, it's a noisy world with a dizzying array of messages competing for our attention.

That said, I still believe you should NOT let the Fear of Competition wrap its evil hands around your neck.

Here's the problem ...

Implying that you have to compete with 250,000 or 4 million or however many other titles is simply preposterous. It assumes that every human being with the ability to purchase books is a potential customer for every book that is available. And if you think about it for two seconds, you'll realize how ridiculous that claim is.

There are huge segments of the adult population that will NEVER buy a gardening book or a self-help book or a do-it-yourself plumbing book. Heck, there are huge segments of the population that will never buy a book, period.

And of all the people who do buy gardening books, for example, only a small percentage of them will ever consider purchasing a gardening title on bonsai or topiary or outdoor feng shui.

Here's the truth ...

You are NOT competing with every other book in the marketplace; only with books in your specific category. In the same way, every book consumer is not mulling over a decision about which book to buy among every book in existence. That kind of thinking is insane.

People buy books because they have a specific need to be educated, enlightened or entertained, so they go in search of the best book to satisfy whatever that specific need is. People also buy books based on the recommendations of friends, reviews or mentions in the media. But they only hear or read about these titles because they expose themselves to people or media that align with their interests.

Bottom line: Focus on YOUR BOOK and YOUR AUDIENCE. Tune out everything else. You'll be a lot more sane because of it.


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  • Hi Bob. You're right to point out that authors should focus their attention on their particular category and not the millions of other publications. But, the sum of the parts equals the total, right? So if the total number of books is growing every year it stands to reason that the number of books published on any given topic is growing as well. Sure, some are in decline, but most continue to have growth. The bottom line is it's a crowded shelf out there, regardless of what topic you're talking about and it seems to get worse and worse every year.

    By Blogger Joe Wikert, At Wednesday, July 11, 2007  

  • Wow, great post and makes a heluva lot of sense!

    By Blogger Dorothy, At Saturday, July 14, 2007  

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