Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What publishers don't know

Lionel Shriver writes in today's Guardian about the experience of having a novel rejected by several literary agents and thirty different publishers, only to have it end up a bestseller and turned into a film - the history of We Need to Talk About Kevin. The success of the book, she says, has been down to word of mouth:
I owe thanks to a thoughtful, sophisticated readership hungry for challenging subject matter, for honest portrayals of parenthood, and for fiction whose meaning is neither obvious nor morally pat. This peculiar, tortured novel was an unlikely bestseller, and has benefited from numerous individual readers with independent tastes who have hand sold it. I've met many of these readers, and they've confirmed my view that the publishing industry routinely underestimates book buyers, especially women, who don't all want to read girly pap.
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