December 1997
by Curt Matthews, IPG/Chicago Review Press

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This space and much of this newsletter in general are usually devoted to marketing considerations-as it should be; this is, after all, the Publishers Marketing Association. I sometimes fear, however, that the question of content is in danger of getting lost in all the marketing hoopla. The oldest and maybe the best marketing adage is “You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.” But at least with the books that typically succeed for independent publishers, just sizzle is not enough. You have to deliver the steak too.


What follows (since it is the holiday season) is a parade of turkeys my company has published which failed because of low or no content. These particular turkeys have been selected, from a sizable flock, because they illustrate how a publisher fully intent on producing books with strong content can come up short.

Dial Out/Dine In


The concept seemed very appealing. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have right next to your telephone at home and at work a complete guide to all the restaurants in Chicago that will deliver? The trouble with the concept was clearly revealed by a question asked by many booksellers: “What is in this book that is not in the yellow-pages phone directory which everyone already has sitting next to their telephone?”


Acquiring titles on the basis of a concept is always very risky. If you have an outline, table of contents, and some sample chapters, you will be better able to resist the lure of a clever but empty book idea….IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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