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Some books arrive labeled “can’t miss,” or have such a hefty advance that publishers do everything they can to assure that they won’t miss. But what about the sleepers? Those books that worked their way through the publish- ing pipeline quietly, launch with little buzz, and somehow find their way to bestseller lists anyway? Kate DiCamillo’s
Because of Winn-Dixie had been abandoned unread in a box when an
editor went on maternity leave and decided not to return. Dusted
off and published by her replacement, it has sold 8. 8 million copies.
Jeff Kinney’s now international bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid initially met resistance at Abrams, where some wondered whether kids
would buy a book that they could already read for free online at the
Poptropica site. Random House acquired Wonder by R.J. Palacio,
a first novel published under a pseudonym, for a modest advance.
Even those with the highest hopes for that book didn’t dream it
would sell two million copies, spend 100 weeks on the New York
Times bestseller list, and spawn a movement about the importance
of being kind.
Nobody loves a good story more than an editor, so we asked editors to tell us how they came to publish their favorite buzzless bestsellers.
Editors tell us the stories
behind their sleeper hits
BY SUE CORBETT