Friday, July 21, 2006

The Next Summer Blockbuster

If you're out there promoting your book this summer, it must be frustrating to read USA Today's article of July 19, "It's July, and there's still no hot beach book."

The article claims that, although some books are exciting readers (and booksellers and publishers) this summer, there isn't a specific breakaway book that everyone is buying.

That doesn't mean that authors aren't engaged in book promotion campaigns this summer. They are. And it doesn't mean they're receiving fewer book promotion opportunities than usual, because that isn't the case. Talk shows are featuring novelists and nonfiction authors, and newspapers and magazines are printing interviews with them.

There just isn't one particular author whose book everyone is bringing to the beach.

The article claims that there's no "Harry Potter" book to read this summer, and Oprah hasn't waved her magic wand on a favorite novel to turn it into an instant besteller.

But I wonder whether would-be book buyers are less eager than usual to go to the beach and relax when there's catastrophic fighting in the Middle East; political battles over funding for stem cell research; a 3-ton chunk of cement falling from a brand-new tunnel and effectively closing down a major metropolitan area; and other news items that are keeping people tuned to CNN rather than seagulls.

The good news is that, if you're in the midst of your own book promotion campaign, you have as much of a chance as any other author of creating a blockbuster this summer.

The bad news is that, if you're focused on your book and your book promotion successes this summer, your readers may not be.

Next summer, maybe the news will be better, and readers will get back to thinking about paperbacks and lemonade. But this year, apparently, readers have other things on their minds.