Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Golf and the Long Tail

Gee, that's a strange post title. LOL. But Stephanie's adventure into self-publishing has me thinking about niche markets and the so-called long tail.

I remember several years ago, when Amazon was really picking up as a retailer and e-books were becoming more of a reality, a statistician did a talk at some big publishing event (BEA??) about "the long tail". I wasn't there, just read about it.

I didn't read the material thoroughly but with the help of some flashbacks to stats class, I think I got the basics of what he meant. Think of a bell curve type diagram, with a bulge in the middle and then tapering out to the side. He argued that traditionally publishers could really only publish books they hoped would hit the bulge part of that curve, because they needed to find a lot of readers to make their investment in publishing it back, and also because shelf space in bookstores was so limited (even more limited now) that consumers would have no way of finding books if the number of titles increased exponentially. Even if readers/consumers would be interested in a particular book/product, they'd have no way of finding it.

Then along came retailers like Amazon with unlimited shelf space and search engines got better so that regardless of retailers, we could all find things we were interested in on the internet, with mind-boggling specificity. And then as e-readers became better and cheaper... Well, it all became viable. That is, it became viable to publish books that might be about the long tail, not the bulge. In fact, I believe he was arguing that for the long haul, it's just as good or better to be in the tail than in the bulge. Or that the bulge would smooth out and go away over time? (Need to find the article again. :)

And tons of books that are first deemed "long tail" will end up having tons of commercial appeal. I think Stephanie's Got Game is one of those! But what's really exciting is that she can have success in the long tail.

I think anyone who enjoys a strong heroine, great banter, fabulous characterization, romance, suspense... will love Got Game. And there's absolutely no need to know anything about golf to enjoy this book, but golfers?--especially female golfers--are going to LOVE this book.

I can't wait to see it soar!


Anonymous said...

The long tail. I am so familiar with that diagram, but I've never heard it described that way.
I love it, and love the idea that quirky, well written, different books will find their way into the marketplace.
I'm ready for different, and ready for books that don't fit a niche.
I'm excited for Stephanie, because this book is definitely one of those books.

Eileen said...

Yeah, thanks tons, Stephanie. I sat there in bed last night with tears streaming down my face during the auditorium scene. Seriously, I don't know how you made me care that much.

Oh, and tried to read it on the treadmill this morning. You're right. Even with the e-reader it's too bouncy.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I am glad I did the SP thing with this book. (I'll know if I'm real glad once I see some numbers) but as Molly said I do think self-publishing is not something that can be profitable for people who either aren't traditionally published or are willing to do a WHOLE lot of work.

For me I've marketed this book more than any other. And still I can see that in comparison to my HQ books - it's nearly invisible.

Come January when I get my first numbers - we can play guess the sales. But truly all I can really hope for is that after a couple of months/year - I might break even on the advertising/copy edit costs.

Now the difference is with the long tail (not sure if I'm using that correctly) any future success I have - this is a book that can always be out there as part of my backlist.

And at the end of the day I wanted people who knew my work to also know this book. Self-publishing let me do that.

Stephanie Doyle said...

And Eileen - I don't know why but even after the 500 hundred freakin A times I've read this book... I still always tear up at the scene. It just lives in my head.

Eileen said...

Not in your head, sweetie, it was in your heart. Mine, too, now.

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