Fact: a Pulitzer Prize won’t make your book a best-seller

Was sent this article from my mailing list today, and it was a surprising read. We all think that winning a major literary prize like the Pulitzer would turn your book into an instant best-seller. Not so. Apparently, all five books that have been awarded the Pulitzer in 2013 have so far enjoyed only a minor sales bump.

Speculations on the reasons why these books haven’t seen great sales:

  • These figures were for hardcover copies, as opposed to paperback
  • There were five winners, diluting the impact compared to the Man Booker
  • The marketing has been terrible for these books

If you ask me, I’ll probably go with the last idea. It’s no secret that publishers have slashed their marketing budgets for everything but their blockbuster titles, but I personally have not seen these books aggressively marketed anywhere, not in bookstores and not online.

It’s even more shocking that Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King was being remaindered when the news broke that it won the Pulitzer. It really tells you what a short life cycle books have today, that publishers and booksellers no longer have the patience for a book to pick up notice. Maybe this is why we ought to be glad we have e-books now.

The only one that’s pierced through my fog of war is The Black Count by Tom Reiss, which by many, many accounts, is a AMAZING book, telling the story of Alexander Dumas’s father, the son of a black slave who rose to become an swashbuckling General in the French army. Dumas based The Count of Monte Cristo on the real life adventures of his father, and my friends tell me it’s a read I’ll finish from cover to cover.

I look forward to buying it!

In any case, these five Pulitzer winners have all survived into paperback editions, so that prize was good for something after all! Here they are if you’d like to pump up their sales.

The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

Stag’s Leap: Poems

Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America (P.S.)


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Filed under Books, Uncategorized, Writing World

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