Publishing is Not Easy

When I was just starting out in publishing, I had the privilege to have a private meeting with legendary William Morrow editor (and now author), Will Schwalbe. I recall him being incredibly, smart, compassionate, and an excellent listener. Our paths diverged soon afterwards. Then, a few years ago, I saw Will speak at Book Expo. As he shared stories from his career, the same candor and compassion came through. One story stood out to me. He talked about the  book he had ever had the opportunity to publish. It was hauntingly beautiful a memoir about the Vietnam War written by someone from the communist side. He spoke about the energy and passion he put into getting the text and cover just right. He pulled out all the stops only to see the book fall flat on its face when it came out a few months later. I think he said it sold only 750 copies. Everyone who has worked for even a little while in book publishing has a similar story. Mine goes back to 2000 when I had the opportunity to work on a book called Out of the Depths about a small group of women living under the Iron Curtain who were secretly ordained as Catholic priests by a local bishop so that they could minister to fellow women in the gulag. We got some great press for it, including a 2-page spread in a major newspaper, but the book failed to catch fire. I don’t know what else to say–it’s a fact of life in publishing–sometimes the best books don’t quite make it. Onassis alliance Review