The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful interview with mega-seller author Mary Higgins Clark. She’s sold 100 million copies of her books in the US alone and continues to sell 3.7 million new copies every year world-wide.
She releases two books a year, one (co-authored with her daughter) at Christmas and one for Mother’s Day. She owns the bookstores during the weeks leading up to Mothers Day.
Industry insiders credit Ms. Clark’s longevity to sheer drive—she collected 40 rejection slips before her first short story was published in 1956—and to her marketing savvy and careful brand management.
Ms. Clark knows and caters to her sales demographic. She holds book signings not just in bookstores but in big-box stores, club warehouses and grocery stores, where she regularly draws 500 people. To mark the coming April 5 release of her 43rd book, “I’ll Walk Alone,” a suspense novel about a woman whose identity is stolen and who stands accused of kidnapping her own son, she’ll meet fans at a Wegmans grocery store in Collegeville, Pa. She’ll hold signings in seven more states and in France, where her books have sold 24 million copies.
“I do get around,” she says in an interview at her 16th-floor apartment on New York’s Central Park South, one of her four homes. “Want to buy a book?”
. . . .
Ms. Reidy, the Simon & Schuster CEO . . . says, “We don’t even want to think about a time when we’re not publishing Mary.”
“When you have an author like Mary who publishes regularly at a regular time of year, has a very large audience that is predictable, and you know you’re going to have that large sales infusion every year at that time, it gives you the profitability to keep your company running, to keep the lights on and keep people employed,” Ms. Reidy says.
Ms. Clark has held her ground even as a new generation of best-selling thriller writers—among them Michael Connelly, Janet Evanovich, Harlan Coben and Lee Child—has flooded the market and pushed the genre in new directions. She has remained dominant through the rise and fall of medical thrillers, legal thrillers, historical-conspiracy thrillers, serial-killer thrillers. Her books have spent a collective 355 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
Louise Burke of Pocket Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint that sells one million paperback copies of Ms. Clark’s books every year, says Ms. Clark has an unerring radar for what her readers want, and keeps delivering. “A lot of authors switch genres or want to try something different, but she continues to write the book her readers expect,” she says.
Ms. Clark has perfected a formula that appeals to a broad swath of mystery readers, 70% of whom are women. Her novels feature beautiful, intelligent women in danger, who often orchestrate their own escapes. Her heroines tend to be ambitious, self-made professionals—doctors, lawyers, journalists, interior designers. All of them, like Ms. Clark, are proud Irish-American Catholics. “She’s always been an Irish-American girl because I know what her grandmother told her,” says Ms. Clark of her characters. “I know her genetic thinking.”
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (This link may expire after several days)