Publishing The Oddball Book

Should you publish an oddball book, one that doesn’t quite fit the traditional norms?

You wrote it, but you can’t really describe what it’s about. Maybe it doesn’t fit in a specific genre, either.

Should you publish an oddball book, one that’s so unique it defies comparison to anything that’s out there?

The short answer is yes, as long as you’re clear about your reasons for publishing and your expectations.

I frequently encounter authors who have published books that don’t fit neatly into a category. All too often, I’m charged with the task of finding the market that will like and buy this book. That’s really something that you, the author should consider before you publish. Here’s a few examples:

Is your book a novel that is so out there that nobody knows how to describe it?

Or is it about such a forbidden topic that nobody wants to critique to or like it? You could be in great company. But it may take a generation or two for people to appreciate your vision.Many great books who survived the test of time were hated by critics and the public when they were first published. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Melville’s Moby Dick, William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies and Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye were reviled by critics and sold poorly at publication! And let’s not forget Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, described by the New York Times as “death to literature itself.”

Is your non fiction book really a legacy book for friends and family?

I worked with a new author several years ago who published his own personal philosophy on life in general. It was also kind of a memoir. It was a charming little book that was perfect for family and friends as a memento of the author. It really never sold because it had no audience beyond the author’s immediate circle.

Does your oddball book solve a problem that doesn’t exist?

Another author I had met was publishing a book detailing “rituals” you could create for important events in your life. I never heard what happened to it. But I wondered at the time if you really needed a book to show you how to create your own ritual? Isn’t that something that kind of evolves by itself?

What should you do if you’ve written an oddball book?

Don’t be afraid to publish your oddball book, but be clear about your objectives for publishing.

  • Do you have the time and the desire to find the niche markets who will buy your book?
  • Have you researched your ideal readers for this book? They may not be obvious from the start. Take the time to engage with this audience via social media, groups you join, online forums and organizations to build your platform. Remember, people buy from people they know and trust.
  • Are you being realistic about sales expectations? It may take a while to find the audience for your oddball book – maybe years. If this book is important to you, go for it!




4 Responses

  • I think there’s more of a blurring of genres these days. Steampunk and Urban Fantasy are two fairly new genres. Keep looking for that group that doesn’t quite fit the norm!

  • Thanks for this article Mary. You are describing my experience perfectly. Trade reviewers either love or hate my first novel. When they hate it, it’s because it doesn’t fit a genre formula. When they love it, it seems they like that it’s different. I’ve gotten similar feedback from readers–they are either rabid fans or totally puzzled. But I guess there’s hope for great success someday–I just hope it doesn’t take a generation or two! Haha.

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