Courtesy of The New York Times
Posted November 5, 2020
Timing, Patience and Wisdom are the Secrets to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Success
PASS IT ON People in the publishing world love to speculate about what will “move the needle” on book sales. Enormous marketing and publicity budgets help. So does an author interview with a major media outlet or the benediction of an influential club. It helps if the author has a track record as a best seller or is a household name or has an interesting story to tell about another person who is a household name.
But the most elusive needle-mover — the Holy Grail in an industry that put the Holy Grail on the best-seller list (hi, Dan Brown) — is “word of mouth” book sales. This is the phenomenon whereby one reader recommends a book to another reader who recommends it to her mother who lends a copy to her co-worker who buys the book for his mother … and so forth, until the title becomes eligible for inclusion in this column.
Robin Wall Kimmerer’s essay collection, “Braiding Sweetgrass,” is a perfect example of crowd-inspired traction. The book was published in 2013 by Milkweed Editions. It did not have a large-scale marketing campaign, according to Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, who describes the book as “an invitation to celebrate the gifts of the earth.” On Feb. 9, 2020, it first appeared at No. 14 on the paperback nonfiction list; it is now in its 30th week, at No. 9.
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