I've come to accept that my New Society 2006 release Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis, will never sell, even after winning national awards for nonfiction. And I know why. It's not targeted to the audience that would buy it. But I would still appreciate any ideas on what to do about it.
Here's what happened. This book is about the social causes of illness, and social approaches to prevention, treatment and wellness. It's political, backed up with lots of fascinating science, with which most people are completely unfamiliar. It also tells stories of communities, medical systems and individuals making profound changes in the way they work and having wonderful success in improving people's health.
So who is it for? That's always the #1 question to ask, and the publisher and I blew it. The right answer is: it's for people who like cutting edge science, social criticism and journalism. In other words, the people who bought books like Fast Food Nation or The Tipping Point, or more political books. But this audience doesn't think diabetes is an interesting topic - they think it's about diet and exercise.
We could have targeted the book better to them, by changing the title and stripping out some of the information that tended toward self-help. But we thought there was a secondary market of people whose lives are affected by diabetes. The publisher tried to reach both audiences and wound up missing both. People in families and communities heavily impacted with diabetes, or people living with it themseleves, generally aren't interested in the political, economic, social or environmental causes. They just want help in living with the diseaes.
The original title was "The Politics of Diabetes," which might have caught my readers' attention. I don't know how much of a difference that would have made, but maybe some... I don't think title alone is the problem.
As it is, the book has been virtually sale-proof. I did a fair amount of radio and never noticed a jump in sales after I had been on. I was only able to line up one book store date, where they sold six books to a group of 10 oeople on a snowy night in Chicago. When I get to talk to people about the ideas in the book, they get very interested, but how to reach them?
So my questions are, is there anything I can do to help this book now? And how can I avoid such problems in the future?
Causes David Spero Supports
Military Families Speak Out Against the War, Courage to Resist, Green Belt Movement (Kenya)