Rhodes & Easton, 121 E. Front St., Traverse City, MI. $21.95 Hardbound, $28.50 Canada, 207 pages; ISBN 0-9649401-1-6, Includes bibliographical references and index, 1997.
This book presents the stories behind 18 self-published or small press best sellers. The foreword is by Richard Paul Evans, author of the legendary The Christmas Box. That self-published fiction book made it onto The New York Times Best-Seller List in 1994: a landmark first in the book business!
All of the stories are fascinating and encouraging to self-publishers and the small press industry. Most of these success stories are about the author's first book. With many rejections from major publishing houses, the authors began to take total control. That is investing their own money, usually starting with a few thousand books. For some after best seller status, major publishers got involved. One paid a reported $4.2 million for the rights to The Christmas Box and its prequel. Some $1.7 million was paid for Mutant Message Down Under by Morgan. Paperback rights for Embraced by the Light by Eadie, cost Bantam $1.5 million. Rights to The Celestine Prophecy by Redfield, sold for just $800,000, after the author first sold 150,000 copies.
The other stories are: Chicken Soup for the Soul by Canfield & Hansen, selling over 11 million copies. 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth by Bennett, sold 4.5 million copies. 1001 Ways to be Romantic by Godek, has sold a million copies. Life's Little Instruction Book by Brown, sold 4.8 million copies. Dianetics by Hubbard is approaching 20 million copies sold. Love You Forever, a children's book by Munsch has sold 9 million copies.
The Wealthy Barber by Chilton, sold a million copies in Canada and 500,000 in the U.S. When I Am An Old Woman I shall Wear Purple by Martz, a book of poetry and stores has sold 1.5 million copies. What To Expect When You're Expecting by Eisenberg, Murkoff, & Hathaway has over 5 million copies sold. The Macintosh Bible by Naiman, is a $32 large size paperback that has sold over 400,000 copies.
The One Minute Manager by Blanchard, started as a $15, 100-page book and was purchased by Berkley Books who have sold 12 million. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Bolles, is now at over 5 million copies. How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by Muir, with 2.5 million sold to date. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Chopra has sold 1.5 million in the U.S., and twice that amount is estimated in foreign sales.
Many will be surprised by the humble beginnings of these now famous books. It is very encouraging that several best sellers are fiction titles. Fiction has always been a very hard way to go for the self-publisher. Now major publishers are paying attention to self-published books. Book publishing as we have known it is changing.
This book is enjoyable reading, whether one is in the book business or not. Read this book and feel good about free enterprise and freedom of the press. Also, this work should help authors understand that they are the single most important part of a book's marketing mix. You can tell from the stories that some books made it in major part because of the author's personal commitment to and knowledge of the subject. Other authors understood and applied all the book promotion angles and more. Luck played a part in many stories. But, one must be ready to put a lucky break to work for a book.
The authors of Inside the Bestsellers, have done well researching and writing an important work. Please recognize the fine book design done here. The dust cover has an elegant non-glossy, gold on green embossed paper. An excellent job, from a small publisher. - © 1997 Rusty Walker
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Welmon "Rusty" Walker, Jr. has been part of the small press business for 25 years. His firm, That New Publishing Co. has published his own and the books of 20 other authors.
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