The book that keeps on booking

Every time a celebrity does something bald, I get a little PR boost. Last year, Melissa Etheridge going au natural on the Grammies actually got me on the Today Show. Britney Spears shaving her head generated a nice little mention in this morning’s Houston Chronicle.
Joni Rodgers, a Houston author who wrote Bald in the Land of Big Hair, said she shaved her head after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma when she was 32... "You make this outward gesture that says, 'I have changed. I am not who you think I am. This is the raw, naked me,' " Rodgers said.

Not exactly a huge PR blitz or anything, but the book was published six years ago. The fact that it gets mentioned (or that it’s still in print!) is kind of remarkable. Bald in the LBH was never officially a bestseller, but over the years, it’s continued a steady trickle of sales, which is called in publishing lingo “a long tail.”

The long tail concept is something to keep in mind when pitching a book to agents or editors. In nonfiction, that means playing up some undated aspect of the book. How will it continue to appeal to readers five, ten, twenty years from now? (Bald in the LBH is about my cancer experience, a topic which sadly never goes out of style.) In fiction, the long tail might come from a film version of the book down the road or sequels that make people want to go back and read the story from the beginning.

Even if it’s never officially on the main bestseller lists, it’s possible for a book with a long tail to sell more copies than a flash in the pan bestseller. The lists are compiled from sample stores over the course of one week, so long term sales don’t count. (If they did, the Bible and Huck Finn would top the list every week, and great literary artists like Pamela Anderson would never get a fair chance.)

So thanks to Kristin Finan over at the Chron for that nice little Bald shout out. It won’t put me on any lists this week, but it got the ol’ tail wagging.


Great news about the plug... though I've seen you lately, and you do so have hair (now). :)

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