Have you wondered how the World of Royalty's Featured Book of the Month is chosen? Maybe not, but I'm going to tell you anyway!
I can't remember exactly when I started designating Featured Books on the World of Royalty site, but it was probably in the late 1990s. Up until a few years ago, there was a new Featured Book every week. Over the years, I think I've featured more than 800 books on the site.
I prefer to feature books that are new and readily available, so I start by going to the Royalty.nu Books page and looking at the previous month's new book list. When choosing the September 2020 Featured Book of the Month, I considered the August 2020 new royalty books.
Why not pick a book published in September to feature in September? Because (as I always say in the royal book Sneak Peeks) publication dates are subject to change. And they change quite often. I want to be sure a book has really, truly, actually been published before I feature it on the site. (By the way, I use US publication schedules, which makes sense since most Royalty.nu visitors come from the US.)
I checked all of the books on the August 2020 list to make sure they were still available. According to Amazon, Blessed Charles of Austria had been rescheduled for September, so I moved it to the September book list. That left me with just 13 new royalty books published in August. I went down the list and picked out the ones I thought were the most important, interesting, and/or likely to be popular.
Under the British Royalty category, for instance, these books were listed:
Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand.
Elizabeth: A Celebration in Photographs of the Queen's Life and Reign by Jennie Bond.
The Man in the Brown Suit: MI5, Edward VIII and an Irish Assassin by James Parris.
Anna of Denmark: The Material and Visual Culture of the Stuart Courts, 1589-1619 by Jemma Field.
The clear choice there was Finding Freedom, the most talked about and timely book on the entire August list. I knew the other British royalty books probably wouldn't appeal much to Royalty.nu visitors. Queen Elizabeth II is always popular, of course, but photo books of this type don't sell particularly well through the site. Books about Edward VIII aren't tremendously popular, either, and Anna of Denmark will likely appeal most to an academic audience.
The next category on the August 2020 royal book list was Europe:
The Habsburgs: To Rule the World by Martyn Rady.
In the Manner of the Franks: Hunting, Kingship, and Masculinity in Early Medieval Europe by Eric J. Goldberg.
County and Nobility in Norman Italy: Aristocratic Agency in the Kingdom of Sicily, 1130-1189 by Hervin Fernández-Aceves.
Women and Economic Power in Premodern Royal Courts by Cathleen Sarti.
Here the clear choice was The Habsburgs. It has less of a niche topic than the others. I'm personally quite interested in In the Manner of the Franks, but site visitors probably won't be.
Two other titles listed in the Europe category weren't new books, just new in paperback. I ruled those out because I prefer to feature books that are being published for the first time. Now there were just three books left to consider:
God's Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World by Alan Mikhail. This is a major new biography of Ottoman sultan Selim I, and there aren't many books on him. This book went on my short list.
King Tut: Is His Tomb Really Cursed? by Megan Cooley Peterson. Royalty.nu visitors don't buy many children's books, so I tossed this one out of my mental competition.
The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II's Childhood by Wendy Holden. Fiction isn't wildly popular with the site's visitors, but Elizabeth II is, so I would consider featuring this one.
My final candidates for September were:
The Royal Governess
Of these, Finding Freedom was again the clear choice for the reasons stated above. Not only is it about modern royals, it's about currently discussed/controversial royals. I took a look at the book's Amazon page… and saw a bunch of bad reviews. Hmm. I decided to use the "Look Inside This Book" feature… but Look Inside This Book wasn't working. Hmm again. Was Look Inside still working for other books? Yes. Strange.
If this was a problem for me, it might be a problem for other people, too. Therefore I eliminated Finding Freedom as a potential Featured Book of the Month.
I then ruled out The Royal Governess because I had stronger options. Now I was down to two books: The Habsburgs and God's Shadow. Site visitors would probably have more interest in reading about the Habsburgs, but I've featured books about them in the past. There aren't many books available in English about Sultan Selim, which made it more appealing to me. Both books have good reviews, and they are fairly similar in length, price, sales rank.
One difference: God's Shadow is a biography, and The Habsburgs is about a whole dynasty. I generally prefer books about individual royals because, after all, the site is called The World of Royalty, not The World of Monarchy. And that's why, in the end, I chose God's Shadow.
It's too bad I couldn't feature Finding Freedom for September 2020. Then again, people don't buy many books about Meghan Markle through my sites. In that regard, she's in good company with Sultan Selim. He played an important role in the world of royalty, and I'm happy to feature his biography on Royalty.nu.