I don’t know why I still find it astonishing when publishers tell me they are “only looking for big books,” that mid-list titles aren’t on their radar. How do they know what’s going to be a big book?
This last week, when I called an editor to follow up on a proposal I sent him–by a Pulitzer Prize winning writer no less–he told me how much he had enjoyed reading it. He then said that the new president of his company had told all of the editors there that, for the time being at least, all they should be looking for was “big, front list” titles. But how do they know what “big front list” is?
Think about it, there are literally hundreds of books that were seriously underestimated by publishers but that turned into huge bestsellers. Here is a brief list that I hope that editor and his new boss will note:
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE by Mitch Albom
THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant
SAY YOU’RE ONE OF THEM by Uwem Akpan
COD: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE FISH THAT SAVED THE WORLD by Mark Kurlansky
THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini
SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach
EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert
THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER by Kim Edwards
THE SHACK by William P. Young
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN by Simon Winchester
LONGITUDE by Dava Sobel
THE NANNY DIARIES by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
THE WORLD WITHOUT US by Alan Weisman
SEABISCUIT by Laura Hillenbrand
Can you think of more?