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Daily Book Bite: Ralph Keyes on What Sells

March 25th, 2013

That Won’t Sell!

An editor once handed me a bound galley of a book on religious psychology that he was about to publish. I riffled its pages. The content looked awfully opaque. I handed it back with polite murmurs, thinking to myself, “This book will never sell.” Its title was Care of the Soul.

No matter how confident their tone, whoever says of a proposed book, “It won’t sell,” is stating an opinion, not a verity. The only way to find out if a book will sell is to try to sell it. Trends have to start somewhere. Perhaps your project will start a trend, the one you’ve been told has no prospects in the marketplace.

(Excerpt from The Writer’s Book of Hope, p. 109)

Keyes then goes on to list many bestsellers whose authors were told their books would never sell, including Nabokov’s Lolita and Wiesel’s Night.

I especially enjoy including this story because Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, visited Booklab via Georgetown’s John Main Meditation Center in 2008: http://georgetownbooks.blogspot.com/2008/02/bestselling-author-thomas-moore-comes.html

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