Mr. Stein drops knowledge

In this article from the Financial Times, courtesy of a link on aldaily.com, Mr. Lorin Stein drops some serious knowledge, which seems more than a little sensible, and the article as a whole proves very worthwhile: Stein addressed the dwindling number of so-called “midlist” literary titles that publishers take on, saying it “is a direct consequence of the disappearance of independent booksellers. When people are nostalgic for the midlist, what they miss is the way a publisher used to grow a writer.”

“If I were your publisher, you would start off selling me your first novel for not very much money, and I would help you grow your reputation through independent bookstores and through reviews. Now, the bookstores don’t exist, the reviews [for these books] don’t exist. And, as a writer, you have very sensibly agented up. So I and four publishers – all of us afraid of getting caught out and not having signed up the only book that will sell that season – may throw millions of dollars at you and probably the book doesn’t sell. Or we may ignore you entirely. Your book might well have been a midlist novel 30 years ago – you would have had a quieter debut but you would have had a better chance of fulfilling your publisher’s expectations and developing a loyal readership.”


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