Are You the Whale or the Sardine?

Are You the Sardine in the Sea?

Yep, there are millions of books out there … is yours contributing to book pollution … or do you have a unique voice, something new to bring to the party, a twist to something old … in other words, can you break from the pack? Or, will you continue to be a sardine in the vast sea?

sardine in the sea

And the answer is … yes indeed.

There are a variety of ways to stand out from the crowd. Start with:

1. Decide you want to do it. Good idea … It will take some effort on your side to shine above, to create the hook and twist that allows others to see you in a different way. It doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune in the process … what it does mean is that you have to bring some vision and passion to the process. Tis also a good idea to go with what you know … or at least have some expertise in … which leads to the next point.

2. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Yes it’s a cliché … but still, pay attention. Look around you—what is your book, your idea that is already out there that others know about. Do you think Starbucks invented coffee; that McDonalds invented burgers; or that Dominos invented pizza? Those products have been around for more years than I have toes … yet with a twist and a tweak, they scored big time.

Did Stephen King write the first horror novel; JK Rowling the first witches and fantasy novel; or Ken Blanchard the first management book? No to all. But what they did was turn their genres upside down—imagine, a skinny management book with lots of stories—who could have thought of something like that?

Ken Blanchard in his One Minute Manager series. Stephen King’s, The Shinning, took a well-known estate in a Colorado area and turned it into a creep factory. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone morphed witches, bad guys and good guys on the first page.

3. Create an Experience. When Blanchard wrote his book, The One Minute Manager, he so connected with his reader—managers are OD’d with things to do, and manage. Here’s a blue print to do it in a minute—what a concept! Rowling created the Harry Potter series with her amazing story telling ability—readers of all ages opened the pages and fell into the books. Experiences up the kazoo that her followers couldn’t get enough of. Stephen King is just different—a superb writer, but with a creep factor … and if you like creep, he’s your guy.

What separates the successful author from the run-of-the mill author is the experience. When the connection happens, they will continue to come. It’s a wonderful thing.

4. Don’t get stuck on pricing. Yes, you need to pay attention to it; it does make sense to know what other books similar to yours are going for. But, and it’s a huge but, don’t price your book because of fear. When my book, Zapping Conflict in the Health Care Workplace was initially published, we priced it at $29. On the second printing, it was increased to $35.

The distributor and book stores said it was too high. Listening, than choosing to ignore their input, I went with my gut. The product was needed in my niche market—it wasn’t just another book on conflict resolution—there were many of those. It was a book that was based on a survey of health care professionals and woven with health care stories. In other words, I built it for them—not the distributor or the book store.

There was no resistance to the price. Conflict was big in health care—I had some solutions with a twist. We sold mega- thousands and enjoyed multiple printings.

5. ID your niche. Oh yes … this is a biggie in the author success model. The kiss of death for the author is when he or she thinks their book is for everyone. Get over it—it’s not … create your own community of readers and followers.

With the Zapping Conflict in the Health Care Workplace that was followed by Stabotage! How Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace, I was able to tap into my financial, number-crunching pedigree and factor in just what toxic behavior cost the health care workplace—quantifying got leadership’s attention. A community was created.

Who needs, really needs/wants your subject? The more you narrow it, the bigger you can become within it.

6. Build it, they will come . Starting as the sardine is just fine … you’ve got to get some legs in the authoring and publishing sea. When you build it, when you break out, you will no longer be the sardine in the sea … you will be the whale…. better, much better.

whale fin

If you want to learn how to become a whale, THe Book Shepherd highly recommends that you attend Author U’s 2012 Extravaganza in Denver, CO on  May 3-5. All the book marketing pros will be there to guide you through the sea –  Author U (niversity)


Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, a book publishing coach and the Founder of Author U (niversity) a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 30 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Her next audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform will be available in the Spring of 2012. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Your Guide to Book publishing on the Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at