Digging for Literary Gold

“If the New York Times or Washington Post or People have reviewed it, the book is likely not a good fit for BiblioBuffet.” This was the message I e-mailed back yesterday to the publicist who contacted me about a book that has been widely and excellently reviewed. It’s not that we are opposed to great books. On the contrary, we are always looking for those.

But we prefer to focus our attention on books that haven’t and likely won’t get that level of attention, not because they aren’t worth it but because limited print space allows for few reviews compared to the number of books published annually, and because in at least some, but more probably in many, cases “names” tend to be chosen. It makes sense in some ways because a new Sue Grafton will sell in the millions. More USA Today readers will buy it than they would a mystery by a relatively unknown writer of equal quality. And those readers’ ties to both the newspaper and the book will strengthen.

We at BiblioBuffet would far rather introduce you to that new writer. It’s why I often emphasize to the contributors that they should explore the online catalogs of smaller and mid-size publishers, including university presses, than depend on the e-mail press releases that arrive regularly in our in-boxes. It’s why one of my ten databases is named publishers, and lists more than 200 of those publishers (and is still growing). It’s why I present a small blurb about a publisher each week in my editor’s letter, talking about a house’s focus and a couple of its books.

Though most of them have distribution and can be found in bookstores, you probably won’t find most of the books the smaller presses have in your local bookstore simply because of space. There’s never enough of it. So I try to encourage our readers as much as I do our contributors to go outside the norm, go outside the “names”,” go outside their comfort one. BiblioBuffet, after all, was founded on the premise that there is “gold in them thar hills” (of publishing). We don’t want to run with the crowd. We like to dig around for our nuggets. So why not do a little digging of your own. You never know what you will find, but I can tell you it sure will be fun to find out.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Digging for Literary Gold

  1. The “big books” suck all the oxygen out of the room. which is why I’m happy to champion books from smaller presses and authors who aren’t household names.

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