Being Heard Against the Waves of New Books

More books are being published all the time. Every year trumps the one before. You may have read that at the Digital World conference this week, speaker David Houle said that more books were published last week than in all of 1950.

That’s a nice headline-grabbing remark – but the thing is, new books have long sprung up like Tribbles in that famous old Star Trek episode about multiplying creatures that threaten to overrun the Enterprise. This book-upon-book-upon-book phenomenon has been happening for the past couple of decades, and the rate at which new books appear will probably increase further as more people release e-versions of their works.

But while we’re awash with words most go unread. This was the case in 1950 and before, and this is the case now. It doesn’t matter how many books are published. What matters is how many authors are noticed. And how you are noticed.

It Takes a Platform

That takes having a platform from which to spread your message. It means finding, building and engaging with an audience.

It doesn’t matter what your specialty is: you’re going to face stiff competition. According to Bowker, the book-industry organization that handles ISBNs (those international standard book numbers) and conducts research, the number of books in just about every category it tracks increased substantially between 2002 and 2010. From agriculture to travel, the arts to technology. Even books of poetry and drama increased almost 100%. All told, the number of books published in the more than 25 categories that Bowker includes in its listings increased by 1148%. What’s an author to do?

Well, you can be heard. It takes focus, a continuing engagement with an audience, and the willingness to wait as you build that audience. It’s rare that authors find overnight, unexpected success in publishing. And even those who seem to have made it big quickly have often spent a long time laying the groundwork for their success.

So, yes, more books were probably published even in one day this today than in some past year. But that doesn’t mean you need to be confined to the sand piles of unread authors. You just have to learn how to raise your voice to be heard against the waves of books that are constantly crashing onto the shores around you.

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2 Responses to “Being Heard Against the Waves of New Books”

  1. Anonymous January 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Wow! More books in a week than in all of 1957? Listings increased by 1148%? It probably shouldn’t be shocking, but it still took me aback. Book publishing certainly isn’t a Kevin Costner Field of Dreams. Just because you write it, really doesn’t mean anyone will read it. Thanks for sharing these insights!

  2. Gail Kearns January 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Yes, all good advice. And part of this for a Book Sherpa like myself is to temper the expectations of authors, especially first-time ones. It takes a lot of persistence and thinking outside the box.

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