Last week I had lunch with one of my favorite editors and we got to talking about the state of publishing and what was working and what wasn’t. Somewhere along the line, we began to try to identify all of those “rules” which we were taught about the business—and discovered that in this ever changing world most of them no longer held.
Here are some examples:
Green covers don’t work—and then there was GOOD NIGHT MOON.
Books about dead or abused children won’t sell—now the true crime category is back and books like Hanya Yanagihara’s A LITTLE LIFE have become bestsellers.
Short story collections don’t do well. And then along comes Jennifer Egan’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD.
Books about death are a “no no” but what about BEING MORTAL and WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR?
And, finally, we all know that books with unlikeable protagonists definitely don’t work, but what about those in GONE GIRL or Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS?
I guess rules are made to be broken and, I have to say, I am always delighted when those in our industry are. It makes life so much more interesting.
I wonder whether you have any examples of what you have been told definitely won’t work…until it does. Let me know.