I think this is something every writer struggles over. You might have written a book that's gotten great reviews by the trades, websites, and smaller newspapers, but how do you get from there to bestseller? There's no way around it, books sell because of how they're positioned and promoted in bookstores--and usually the publishers are paying for that placement and promotion, and reserving that payment for what they're considering their big books. So if you're not part of that, how do you break through?
It really comes down to that. You need to be lucky to have the right person discover your book and support it. More than just support it, but be a champion for it. Whether it's a reviewer at the NY Times or Entertainment Weekly or the right person at a chain bookstore, you need someone like that in your corner for a book to break through. I think that might be happening to me right now. Case in point, my sales rankings right now at bn.com and amazon.com:
Small Crimes sales rank at bn.com: 267
at amazon.cm: 635,923
Why the huge discrepancy? It's not a stunt on my part--I'm not buying copies at bn.com, nor am I asking friends to. It's because someone at bn.com discovered Small Crimes and is giving it prominent exposure on their Mystery & Crime and Thriller pages. On their Mystery & Crime page this is what they had to say:
This month focuses on a writer we'll be hearing a lot more about over the coming years: Dave Zeltserman. His new book, Small Crimes, is just out -- ultra-noir, funny, and shocking by turns. A major new talent continues his crime spree.
BN.com started giving Small Crimes this exposure Thursday and the ranking quickly went from 500,000 to 660. Now it's 267. If amazon.com did the same, I'm sure the sales would follow there also. The reason someone at bn.com had a chance of noticing the book in the first place is that I'm being featured on their crime book club this month--but still, without the right person at bn.com reading Small Crimes and believing in it this wouldn't be happening. This is the luck part of it.