Book Publicity: What to Expect in 2024
The role of book publicists is changing as quickly as the media landscape. Here's what to expect in 2024.
I’m working on a deep dive into various publishing paths, so watch for that before the year’s end. In the meantime, I want to discuss what book publicity will look like in 2024. But first, subscription housekeeping:
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I’ve previously written about the ins and outs of book publicity, so check out my archives if you haven’t. As 2023 comes to a close and 2024 publication dates creep up on us, it’s essential to assess the future of book publicity, which is increasingly fluid.
I. Bestseller Lists:
I’ll write a separate newsletter about this, but The Wall Street Journal is eliminating its bestseller lists, which is a blow to self-published authors. Since the WSJ used hard data from Circana Bookscan, you could often find self-published authors on the bestseller list. USA Today and NYT are the two remaining major bestseller lists, which is not great. The NYT doesn’t recognize self-published books nor reveals how it ranks bestsellers (hint: they do as they wish). USA Today eliminated its bestseller list but then revived it, though I’ve noticed the absence of self-published books. The industry must rethink how it defines a bestseller without the marketing constructs of the NYT or USA Today. Many author contracts include a bestseller clause; an author will earn a monetary bonus if their book hits the list. Considering the NYT is cagey about its methodology, it’s not exactly equitable to offer bonuses on hitting a list that, more often than not, is rigged. Bonuses shouldn't be attached to them until there is transparency in calculating bestseller lists. More to come on this topic.
If you’ve read this newsletter long enough, you know I have mixed feelings about book reviews. I respect book critics and the difficult decisions they face when choosing which books to review. However, time and again, I have seen books well-reviewed without gaining sales momentum. I’d love nothing more than to tell you a review in the NYT sells thousands of copies of a book,