John Grisham has written a Daily Beast guest post in which he recalls making a costly mistake when his debut novel A Time to Kill came out. The gist of it is that he ordered 1,000 copies from his publisher, believing he could sell them himself and make a profit. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t too successful and he was left with hundreds of copies of his own book piled up in his office.
The supposed ‘$6m screw-up’ referred to in Grisham’s post isn’t quite as bad as it seems. The $6m refers to the value of all those unsold first edtions if Grisham had kept them, since they now sell quite handsomely to collectors. Whether they’d sell so handsomely if Grisham had hung onto them and was offering them today is another matter.
The point of the story, though, is that many people would probably have given up when they failed to sell so many copies. A Time to Kill has now sold more than 20m copies around the world, but back then – as the piles and piles of books filled Grisham’s office – such success probably seemed a world away.