Having spent more years than I care to count in this business, I have
unearthed one of the secrets of success, maybe the only one. You have to
find an editor who not only loves your work but is in a position at the
house to make sure you get the full push, even when the sales of that first
book disappoint. The big difference between the good old days and now is
that there are much fewer of these super-editors with enough clout to
overrule the bean-counters and, because of the cutbacks, etc, many of these
are in play. It's why some agents are a bargain, even at 20% commission.
They know precisely where to place the manuscript. I'm not saying content
doesn't matter. But there are enough dark fiction writers at the big houses
(off the top of my head, Megan Abbott, Charlie Huston, Ken Bruen, David Corbett) to suggest that there's no universal thumbs down on noir. It's almost why they created the trade paperback.
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