Are the Big Publishers Clueless? … by Darla Luke

A friend of ours shared a link a couple of days ago (Thank you, Linda K!) that has a lot of people up in arms. Curious, I read the blog where Penelope Trunk talks about accepting a big advance from a big publisher and then going on to indy-publish that very same book two years later. I have to say I’m conflicted (you can read it here).

I’ve long thought that publishers and their marketing department don’t really know what the people who buy their books really want. She proves my theory with her experience during a conversation with the marketing department. Yeah, if a marketing department mentioned to me that they were going to market my non-fiction book on a Usenet forum, and then the next person mentioned Linkedin as a marketing opportunity, I think I’d have a heart attack.

But Penelope asked direct questions and made pointed comments on their ability to market her book … because she knows her book, and she knows her audience.  The end result was she kept the advance and went on to self-publish that same book. No, I don’t know the details. Not sure I could keep the advance and look myself in the mirror every morning. Again, read the blog post and decide for yourself.

It’s been my contention for a while that a readers taste doesn’t really change as swiftly as publishers would have us believe. That’s where I think self-publishing and indy-published books have and will shine. Want an erotic book about bondage? You can find it. Want a sweet, traditional romance without sex? You can find it. Something in-between, with a suspense or paranormal twist? You got it. Not to mention that books are available 24/7 online. It’s a wonderful time we live in, even with all the uncertainty.

Just five years ago, if you would have told any one of us that even one self-published book would be on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list I’m sure we would have called you crazy. This week there are four!

Here are the self-pubbed books that made the USA Today Top 150 Best-Selling Books list for the week of 7-12-12*:

This week #17 (last week #25): Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (Smashwords) $2.99

This week #41 (last week #91): Slammed by Colleen Hoover (Amazon Digital Services) $2.99

This week #100 (last week #101): Easy by Tammara Webber (Amazon Digital Services) $3.99

This week #112 (last week #191): Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover (Amazon Digital Services) $3.99

*I’m human and do make mistakes (a shock to my friends, I’m sure!). If there’s a book on this week’s list that I missed, please let me know. If I misspelled/mistyped an author’s name or book title, I’m extremely sorry.

Tell me what you think … Do you think the big publishers are clueless? Are there books you want to read but can’t find?

Darla Luke

You can find me on Twitter @writer_at_work, “Like” me on Facebook, or visit my website:


About Darla Luke

Darla Luke spent her childhood making up stories in her head, when she wasn't devouring every book she could get her hands on. If someone would have told her she'd be a writer when she grew up, she would have laughed herself silly. Now, writing is her passion, and she loves telling stories (especially ghost stories) and believes they all should have a happy ending.

Posted on July 13, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is such a complex issue, Darla. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    It’s my understanding that publishers look at books in terms of profit and sales, but that editors and agents also care deeply about story quality. They need to believe in their sellability, of course, but I believe that great writing and stories still rule. Reading is such a subjecting thing, though; I imagine there’s an audience for just about everything.


    • Thank you, August! Yes, big publishers have to look to their bottom line – profits & sales – but if they don’t know the demographics of who they are selling to, or ignore public demand, they are missing a huge opportunity for sales.

      Yes, I totally believe there is an audience for just about every book, if they can find it! It’s a discussion the Janes’ and I have almost every time we meet … how to market to our audience. Hopefully someday we’ll have an answer!


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