The New York Times had an interesting article this week: “Millions of Followers? For Book Sales, ‘It’s Unreliable.’” The article is about how all of these wildly popular social media personalities with millions of followers are getting book contracts and then… hardly anyone buys their books. As in, social media followers are an unreliable metric in assessing whether or not someone’s book should be published. Buried within the article is a priceless little publishing fact about Piers Morgan, who has millions of followers on Twitter:
The journalist and media personality Piers Morgan had a weaker showing. Despite his followers on Twitter (8 million) and Instagram (1.8 million), “Wake Up: Why the World Has Gone Nuts” has sold just 5,650 print copies since it was published a year ago, according to BookScan.
It’s difficult to know why this happens. Sometimes, publishing and marketing executives say, there is a mismatch between what people post about on social media and the subject of their books. Perhaps the books don’t provide anything beyond what they’ve already put on Instagram. It could be that the author hasn’t pushed the book to his followers effectively, or that those followers (the ones who aren’t bots, or paid for) aren’t terribly engaged with what he posts.
Eight million followers on Twitter and he can only sell less than 6,000 copies of his book, from the Hysterical Shouty Petulant White Man collection? The thing is, I feel like the Piers situation is an outlier – here in America, the shouty petulant white men do sell a lot of books. Think: Bill O’Reilly, who is a pretty successful author, all things considered. So is Piers Morgan’s online “support” a mile wide and an inch deep? Does he have millions of bot-followers? Or here’s another theory: the people who genuinely like what Piers has to say know that they can get his bile for free on Twitter and on the Mail Online. Why pay for something that he’ll scream at you for free? Of course, there’s the Occam’s Razor explanation too: Piers’ book sucks and no one wants to read it.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Piers’ IG.