“Becoming” is Becoming Historic

Yes, that title is awful. Sue me.

I remember reading at the end of last year about the top selling books of the year. I’d have to go back and check, but there were maybe five that reached the one million threshold.

Michelle Obama’s memoir is said to be on pace to sell 10 million copies, which would be the bestselling memoir ever.

And President Obama’s memoir is still on the way! 🤑

Amazon is in Some Hot Water

Amazon is in hot water right now. The website has Holocaust denial books listed for sale.

This is difficult for me to defend at all. Some might say free speech. Others might say history. But is it okay to sale a book most likely branding itself as fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth?

I’m not sure where this falls on the list of issues facing the company, but it’s mist definitely an issue. I’d argue Holocaust denial is one of the most dangerous things we encounter as humans. Why? Because it opens the door to repeat history. To repeat a major aspect of the worst armed conflict the world has ever known.

I have a wristband I bought at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last year when I visited DC. It says “What you do matters.” Take note, Amazon. Because what you do matters.

I’ve worn that wristband everyday since I bought it. To remind myself that my voice and actions are important to ensure that we never go back to our worst days as humans.

Why Does Wal Mart Sell Books?

Serious question. I can name one person off the top of my head who I know buys books fairly regularly from Wal Mart. I’ve definitely done my share of browsing the books at Wal Mart, but my memory tells me I’ve never actually bought a book from there. I usually just look to see if I know which books they’ll have in stock without even thinking about it.

If I set up my tripod near the books and threw Harry’s invisibility cloak over the top of it I’d see just how few people actually stop to take a look at them. I own something like 250 books. But when I think of Wal Mart I think of groceries, essentials, and TVs.

I’ve bought books from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Half Price Books, Murder by the Book in Houston, and the Wal Mart website. We have so many options at this point that I just don’t see any benefit for a grocery store to sell such a limited number of books. They sell mega bestselling new releases and ultra popular older ones. The problem is that just about anyone who’d be interested in buying these particular books has bought them elsewhere.

Also, Target does a MUCH better job with their books than Wal Mart does. Better titles and better selection in every store I’ve been in. But still, I haven’t bought from there either.

My question still stands. Why does Wal Mart sell books? 

Autographed Books? Think Again

One of the things that all major presidential (and also some Congressional) candidates do is write books. Lots of memoirs and autobiographies. This year was no different. Both Trump and Hillary have published multiple books. When you have millions of supporters, selling autographed books at a significant markup seems like a good move, right? Right. Unless it comes out that you never signed them in the first place.

I’ve seen authors in warehouses full of books signing away. Literally thousands of them. Donald Trump was thought to have done the same and sold the books through his campaign. Except he didn’t. He never actually signed the “autographed” books he was selling to his followers. A machine did. 😂

Welp.

Another Dr. Seuss Book is out Today

Dr. Seuss died in 1991. Seven new books have been published under his name since his death. The difference between this situation and what’s going on with Harper Lee is there is no controversy surrounding the release of his books after his death. It probably helps that he’s probably more popular now than he was during his lifetime.

What Pet Should I Get? is his newest book to be released posthumously. If you’re questioning my above statement about his popularity, then let me tell you a fun fact. This new book is currently the top selling book on Amazon. That’s right. It’s outselling Go Set a Watchman.

The main reason I’m writing this today is to talk about his popularity rather than his new book. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t at least know his name? I’ve stated on here several times that I’ve never actually read one of his books, but I could probably name 5+ just off the top of my head. And I’m not the only one. I read from a reputable source that he’s sold more than 450 million books since his death. I mean, holy shit. Wow. That number is simply ridiculous. I’m not sure there’s another author out there who could sell that many books in the first 25 years after his or her death. And there will be even more books forthcoming.

What I want to ask y’all is why you think he’s managed to remain so popular in the two and a half decades since his death. Sure there are some authors who will always sell books no matter how long it’s been since their death, but he’s basically outselling all living authors right now besides the handful of mega bestsellers! How? Someone enlighten me because I’m really curious.

You can view the Amazon product page for the new book here.


On this day in 2014 I published United Way’s Reading Together Program.

 

Amazon Publishing set to Expand in 2016

Remember when Amazon first launched its publishing business and it was touted as a terrible move by industry analysts because of how difficult it would be to get retailers to sell the books? Well I’m imagining everyone at Amazon laughing right about now.

As you know, the books Amazon publishes are sold on Amazon and basically nowhere else. You can’t walk into your neighborhood Barnes and Noble store and find them. You typically can’t walk into your favorite indie bookstore and find them. Why? Because they refuse to carry Amazon titles. Which comes as no surprise to anyone. But that hasn’t stopped the company from making its mark on the publishing industry in just a few short years. This year Amazon Publishing will release 1,200 new titles. Next year that number will climb to 2,000. And I imagine it won’t stop there. 2,000 books is a small drop in the publishing bucket, but I bet many within the industry fully expected Amazon’s leap into publishing to fail, for whatever reason. It hasn’t. And is likely here to stay a little while.

Have you read a book released by one of Amazon’s many publishing imprints? You may not even know it.


On this day in 2014 I published And the Edgar Award Goes to….

 

The Mysterious Case of the Literary Litterbug

Yes, this is a real thing.

In Colorado over the last couple of months a strange thing has been happening. Someone has been dumping books along the side of the highway. And not just one book here and one book there, the person has dumped more than 600 of them. That can become quite the inconvenience for everyone involved, mostly drivers.

But the case has been solved. On Thursday a state trooper witnessed the Literary Litterbug in action and threw the book at him for his crimes (like my pun?). He was charged with six counts of littering and released. The book bandit acquired thousands of books when an area used bookstore went out of business a few years ago. He was able to sell them online but ultimately couldn’t compete with larger, more refined book-selling operations. So instead of donating or just hanging on to the books he decided to start dumping them on his way to work.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t be dumping your books on the side of the highway. Send them to me and I’ll take care of them.


On this day in 2014 I published And the Most Banned Book of 2013 is….

 

HarperCollins Could Remove all of its Books From Amazon

Here we go again.

Everyone knows about the Amazon/Hachette dispute from last year in which it appeared the Big Five publisher was standing up to the internet giant. But the dispute was ultimately resolved when the sides reached a new agreement. One that Simon & Schuster and Macmillan also agreed to. But now HarperCollins comes along and thinks they’re different from everyone else.

In what world would it be a good idea to remove all of their books from Amazon? Maybe the CEO of Hachette left his position there and made the move to HarperCollins? Or maybe there are just some idiots running one of the biggest publishers in America who actually think this is a good business move. I have no idea.

Word on the street is that HarperCollins would try sending its readers to its own website that was made to decrease its dependency on Amazon. But how many people are buying books directly from publishers? I’m not and I don’t think I know anyone who does.

I don’t see this ever actually happening, but who knows? Crazier things have happened.


On this day in 2014 I published Coming up With the Perfect Title for Your Books is…Nearly Impossible.

 

Why is Zoella’s new Book Causing Such a Fuss?

231a7e20-7497-11e4-9b06-bb17e2c882df_Zoella-Girl-Online-launch

You need to know two things before reading on to have any idea what I’m talking about. First, Zoella is a very popular YouTuber. Second, her novel Girl Online had the best opening sales week ever for a debut novel in the UK. It was just released at the end of November.

Okay. If you don’t know what the fuss is about, well that’s what I’m here for. I’ve read blog post after blog post and article after article criticizing Zoella for her book. Why are all these people criticizing her? Because she used a ghostwriter. See, I have a theory. The criticism she’s getting really has nothing to do with that fact, though she had to release a statement on Twitter admitting that she had help. No. I think UK readers have issue with the fact that her book has outdone JK Rowling in some way. Because this young online star is somehow unworthy of selling a lot of books. What bullshit.

Just about every article I’ve read mentions JK Rowling. “Zoella outsells even JK Rowling and Harry Potter” or “This 24-year-old has best debut sales week ever in UK; besting JK Rowling.”

I know some people have issue with the use of ghostwriters. That’s fine. But why is this girl somehow being treated differently than other “authors” who have used them in the past? Oh. Because she sold a lot of books. The funny thing is that readers really have no idea how many authors actually use ghostwriters. No idea at all. Because some publishers and authors are a lot more open about that fact than others.

Lastly, I have no issue with her great opening sales week. As a matter of fact, I think she should be congratulated. I mean, she has more than six million YouTube subscribers. Did you think that she would release a book that didn’t sell well? Come on. JK Rowling was a debut author. Zoella is a debut author with millions of fans and followers. I’m quite certain that the author of the Harry Potter series is perfectly fine with not having the record for most sales in the opening week for a debut novel. (If she ever had it in the first place.)

So everyone needs to calm down about all this. Zoella has built up a brand of herself over the last few years on the internet. And now she gets criticized for wanting to write a book. No. I’m not a fan of celebrities “writing” books, but this girl is getting way too much negativity thrown her way when she’s doing something that so many celebrities have already done before her. She’s not even the first YouTuber to release a book. Just stop.

You can check out Girl Online here.

You can check out Zoella’s YouTube channel here.

Blogging Doesn’t Sell Books

I know this isn’t news to most of you. Cause you’re a blogger. And a writer/author, whatever you want to call yourself. And your book isn’t selling as well as you’d hoped. And the thing about this is that it is not only self-published authors who face this problem. You always see posts about author platforms on social media to help sell books or even get a publishing deal, but let’s take a step back.

Author platforms are great. But are authors selling more books because they follow 50k people on Twitter and have 45k followers? I think not. Are authors selling more books because they have 25k followers on their blog? Perhaps. But how many authors have that kind of following on WordPress or Blogger? I know A LOT of bloggers. If I’m just looking at book/writer blogs that I know of, I’m only thinking of a handful who even have a larger following than I do. And I’m just barely over 2,000.

Of course, a blog and Twitter aren’t the only social media sites out there for authors to use. Facebook is still used by a number of my favorite authors. And then of course YouTube. But just about every social media site is difficult to find an audience, especially for authors. I’m certain that my blog could grow exponentially faster if I wanted to write about news or pop culture or music or movies, but I don’t. I write about books. I write about writing.

Blogs seem like the obvious choice for authors to start their platforms, but selling books is difficult for everyone who doesn’t have a household name. Which is like 99 percent of us.

PS: If you’re going to point out one or two or ten bloggers you know who are selling a lot of books, then that’s nice. Except for the fact that there are literally thousands of others out there who aren’t. Cause blogs just don’t sell books like one might expect.

I have the perfect question for this post. If I were to release a book today, how many of you would seriously consider buying it? I’ll even do my first ever poll to make it easier.