The Bookstore Dream
by Jack Dermody
What could be more pleasurable for new writers than to walk around a bookstore and fantasize about their own books one day landing on the prime real estate of the choicest shelves there? On the other hand, walking into that same bookstore and having achieved the reality of seeing even one book featured on prime real estate is no fantasy at all. It is a daunting journey.
The trek is, in fact, so daunting that I am tempted to quit composing this post right now.
You may have heard of the S.M.A.R.T. acronym for goal-setting: in the business world, those mnemonic letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Related. If we wish to conquer shelf space at Barnes and Noble, we need to think like businesspeople.
Bear with me. Let me write aloud for a sec.
Specific: What exactly is the subject and audience of your product? Exactly. Anything less than a clear picture will lead to failure.
Measurable: Compared to your competition, how does your product measure up to the current biggest sellers, and will your product add something truly and uniquely new to the knowledge base and skillsets of your buyers?
Assignable: Ah, here is the rub. Too many authors delude themselves into thinking they can market their books on their own. It takes a village to sell a book. Who in the business world are your partners? How good are they? Will they run with your product as passionately as you will? Do they have every financial reason to stay excited with your product?
Realistic: Is prime shelf space at Barnes and Noble a realistic, achievable goal? Probably not. The most such a goal will probably do is challenge you to raise the bar on the quality of your product. Meanwhile, set a realistic goal of selling, say, 5000 books to a target audience in specific geographic locations. Even more realistic, you are giving speeches and directly exchanging your paperback book for hard cash in the back of meeting rooms. So there. How’s THAT for realism!
Time-Related: If you don’t have a timeline with milestones for completion that you meet the same way that a business adheres to production and distribution cycles, then you live in Fantasyland.
Okay, then. This tough talk is therapy for me. If it helps you, then great.
Jack Dermody is an expert on classic personality types; national group facilitator and corporate trainer; textbook author in linguistics and psychology; and author of Job Interviewers: Get Inside Their Heads. He is formerly published with Prentice-Hall, ELS Language Services.