The Good Muslim, The Marriage Plot and Go the F**k to Sleep are among the books literary publishing directors wish they had published themselves this year, with Other People's Money, What I Did and The Dovekeepers among those they had thought would make a bigger impact.
In a Guardian round-up of "Wishes and Misses", publishers including Jamie Byng, Suzanne Baboneau and Alexandra Pringle selected the titles they wish they had published, and those they did that they had higher hopes for. Among the reasons for books not catching a wider readership, the editors suggested variously a lack of support from booksellers, and the challenge of "pushing a backlist".
Pringle, editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury, selected Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright as her book which deserved better, saying: "It received outstanding reviews—the best, probably, he has every received—and it sold well. Yet not only was it not shortlisted for the Man Booker or Costa; it was not once mentioned in the press as one that should have been nominated." She selected Tahmina Anam's The Good Muslim (Canongate) and Louisa Young's My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (HarperCollins) as books she was "especially sad" not to get, having offered on them.
Viking publishing director Venetia Butterfield is hoping for bigger success in paperback for The German Boy by Patricia Wastvedt, and chose Belinda McKeon's Solace (Picador) and Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot (Fourth Estate) as the titles she wished she had published.
For Nicholas Pearson, publishing director at Fourth Estate, it was The Information which should have got more attention, and Go the F**k to Sleep (Canongate) as the book he wished he had published: "I have recently had a baby. Been too tired to read much else."
Corsair publisher James Gurbutt was the only editor to choose backlist titles as those he wished had received more attention, picking the reprints of four Ira Levin titles. He said: "Pushing a backlist these days without a film or TV adaptation is tough, regardless of quality." He pointed to Teju Cole's Open City (Faber) as the book he wished he had published: "It's rare to come across a novel as beautiful as this."
Meanwhile Allen Lane publishing director Simon Winder chose Britain's War Machine by David Edgerton as one he would have liked to have had a bigger readership, saying: "We even gave it a misleadingly jaunty cover. It got some great reviews, but didn't really connect with the large audience I thought it deserved." He chose The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels by Matthew Sweet (Faber) as his "miss".
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