Why you should ignore the 3 million other books published every year

There are about 3 million new books published every year. If you are a new author, this is supposed to intimidate and scare you. How can you compete with 3 million other books?

It’s bullshit.

The competition that matters

Let’s say you have an idea for a business strategy book. Or a marketing book. Or a self-help motivational book.

Do you compete with 3 million other books?

Do you imagine that an individual in your target audience says, “Hmm, which of the 3 million books published this year should I buy? Should I buy your book, or one of the 3 million others?”

You’d have an infinitesimal chance of reaching that buyer. Luckily, that’s not how people buy books.

You are not competing with the thousands of blank notebooks with clever covers.

You are not competing with the hundreds of AI-generated BS travel books.

You are not competing with the lesbian sword-and-sorcery novels, the clever children’s books about cute mice, or the books about how to interpret the bible.

None of those millions of books matter. You can safely ignore all of them, and all the other books that your buyer has no interest in. That’s close to 3 million worries off your chest.

What about the actual competing books?

There are still hundreds of strategy books, hundreds of marketing books, and hundreds of motivational books published every year.

Should you worry about those?

Most likely not.

Let’s start from first principles.

You should work hard to answer the four fundamental questions about your book: who is your audience, what is their problem, how do you solve their problem, and how is your book different from the other books that purport to solve their problem?

That last question is important. If you can’t differentiate your book, you’re just a copycat. If there’s already a good book that solves their problem, why put in the effort to create another?

Assuming you can differentiate your book, how should you think about those other strategy, or marketing, or motivational books?

Those authors are your friends.

You will be on the same panels with them. Your book will be reviewed in the same roundups as theirs. Their readers will buy your book, too. (Who buys only one book on a topic of interest?)

Their books will help make the case that the problem is real. That helps you. Those authors ought to be your best friends.

But there are two things you need to know.

First, your biggest competition is not other books. It’s ignorance and apathy. People who don’t know about your book will not read your book. That’s why your plan to promote your book is such an essential element of your success.

And second, you don’t need to sell more books than the next author. You need to sell books to the right people.

Imagine that you sell 100 books.

Ten of those people hire you to give speeches at $10,000 a speech.

Ten of those people hire you to consult at $10,000 per gig.

Ten of those people adopt your software, or download your online course, or otherwise generate additional hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue for you.

You could be a huge success without outselling the competition. If your book makes you a hero to your slice of the audience, you will succeed.

The authors of the other 3 million books won’t even notice. And you will have successfully ignored them on your way to success.

So pay no attention to the 3 million books published this year. Pay attention to reaching your audience and helping them prosper.

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  1. This is such an outstanding post and so very true in my own experience as a published author. Keep up the great encouragement and insights, Josh! -Nate