Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Won't Believe What W. Somerset Maugham Did To Sell His First Book!

Novelist W. Somerset Maugham, famous for his book Of Human Bondage, had dismal sales for his first novel, Liza of Lambeth.  His publisher had no interest in advertising the book. So, he cleverly placed a few classified ads in a few daily newspapers in London. It said:
Young millionaire, lover of sports, cultivated, with good taste of music and a patient and empathetic character wishes to marry any young and beautiful girl that resembles the heroine of W.S. Maugham's new novel.
Within 7 days, the first edition of his little known novel sold out. It went on to get critical praise and popular sales. Here are some other first novels that made it big out of the gate:
  • Ralph Ellison's only novel Invisible Man
  • Janet Fitch's White Oleander
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
  • Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
  • Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain
  • David Guterson's Snow Fall on Cedars
  • Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees
  • Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Harper Lee's only novel To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jay McInernay's Bright Lights, Big City
  • Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind
  • Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
  • Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things
  • Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones
  • Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
Just sayin': Good things are possible.

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