Guest Post

Nerve

by John Shors
12/10/2009

Sometimes I think people, companies, and entire industries lose their nerve to innovate, to push the envelope. As a bestselling novelist, I've seen such stagnancy within the book publishing industry. It's a billion-dollar industry that has been around for more than a century. It has enormous clout and advantages within the world of retail. And yet, sales are flat and many people in the industry seem to believe that books are doomed. I take a contrarian view. Books aren't doomed, but the business is changing, and writers, editors, and publishers need to adapt, to push their strategies beyond their comfort zone.

When my first novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, came out in 2004, I decided to do something that had never been done. I wrote a letter to book clubs that I included in the back of my novel. This letter invited book clubs to invite me to their evenings via speaker phone. I included my email address. Amazingly, even though book clubs are incredibly important to the publishing industry, people in the business scoffed at my idea. They believed that the traditional "reading guides" at the back of novels were sufficient to meet the needs of book clubs. I had always thought these guides were a feeble attempt to give something extra to the reader, and consequently created my book club program.

Five years later, my program has been an enormous hit. I've now spoken with more than 2,200 book clubs, and my program has been featured by National Public Radio, Newsweek magazine, and The CBS Evening News. At this point, in very large part due to my book club program, I've become an internationally bestselling novelist. My books, Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, and Dragon House, have been translated into twenty-five languages.

By thinking outside of the box, by giving my readers what they wanted, I created a career for myself within a very hard profession. I continue to push the envelope in many areas within my business. And while sometimes my "nerve" turns a few people off, it allows my books to succeed and me to continue to live out my dream.

John Shors is an internationally bestselling novelist who lives in Boulder, CO. His books, Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, and Dragon House, have won multiple awards, and have been translated into twenty-five languages.

  1. I look forward to reading your book. Good luck on Saturday in Boulder!

    Comment by Deb Evans — 12/10/2009 @ 6:38 AM

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