Thursday, March 4, 2010

Help, It’s Another Story About The Help.

It’s not often that books come out of nowhere to become huge bestsellers. And as we’ve beaten the one-year mark on Katherine Stockett’s The Help, it seemed like a good idea to ruminate on its success. Will publishers decide there was a formula and try to duplicate it? Will they be shocked when the formula doesn’t pan out?

Do I have to tell you about the book? No, you’ve probably already read it. If you haven't read it, it's success has already colored what you likely think of it. As I was saying to some friends this past weekend, at this point you're going to judge it based on its success, and so the book is going to read really differently than right out of the slush pile (remember all those successful books that were rejected 30 times) or as a book that was overlooked but you'd read a couple of good reviews and one of your friends said there was really something there.

Stockett hits the sweet spot between literary and commercial, which is much more likely to be achieved in trade paperback; this gives hope to hardcover publishers. I haven’t read it yet (it won’t affect my sales) but I actually have bought a couple of copies as gifts. Will I eventually? Probably. When a book is this book, you want to know what makes it connect.

One thing a lot of folks have focused on is that The Help was the first release of the eponymously named imprint Amy Einhorn Books. The imprint has a new book out called The Postmistress that is also getting a good amount of buzz. It is fitting that I bring this up this week; here are our top five fiction sellers for this past week:


I only remembered two things about Amy Einhorn:

1. She headed a paperback original imprint called Five Spot at Warner (now Grand Central) and had a decent-sized bestseller in Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress (also a paperback original). The imprint, like Downtown Books at Pocket, was targeted to twenty-to-thirty-something women with escapist fiction.

2. I once ran into her in a cafeteria at the Book Expo convention where I chatted with her and Jon Karp the publisher of Twelve, an imprint at Hachette. Hey, I was the only person in that conversation who didn’t get my own imprint.

So I figured I’d ask about the road that led her to the AE colophon, a huge bestseller, and another perhaps positioned to be so. How did she get from there to here? I was a bit mystified.

What happened? Stay tuned until tomorrow.


I was doing some errands for my mom this morning, including making copies of some forms. Across from me was someone copying their book manuscript. Really? Not in a file? I'm not going to say the title (as that person might surf upon it), but if you were at a copy shop on Beacon Street with your manuscript, that working title doesn't work! Change it.

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