Guest Blog: The Next Big Thing

In a world where even Uma Thurman can get dumped by her husband, it’s hard to take some decisions personally, but you still don’t brag about not being wanted anymore.

I kept quiet for a couple of years after Random House dropped me, just days before publishing Doc in May of 2011. But when Ron Charles of the Washington Post Book World asked, “I assume Random House will be publishing Epitaph?” I had to tell him, “Well, I certainly expected to stay with Random House for my whole career, but I’m with Ecco at HarperCollins now.” And the story came out.

A number of award-winning authors have recently experienced a similar abrupt abandonment. Jon Clinch is among them. His first novel Finn was an American Library Association Notable book, won the Philadelphia Library’s Athenaeum Award, and was listed among 2008’s best novels by the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post. His second novel Kings of the Earth was named the best of the year by the Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List on Oprah Winfrey’s magazine “O.” But he, too, found himself reconsidering what a writer can reasonably expect from a publisher.

When he read about my experience at Random House, he wrote an insightful piece about the current atmosphere in the book industry. It’s called Looking for the Next Big Thing. Read it and weep.

In the meantime, I am very happy to be with HarperCollins’ Ecco imprint. As Ron Charles said, “It’s a great place for you. They have really good taste.” Epitaph is likely to be out in the fall of 2014.


4 thoughts on “Guest Blog: The Next Big Thing”

  1. I didn’t read any of the Fifty Shades books, but I did read a lot about them, and the universal description I saw was “badly written, painfully so” – it’s a shame that this is what publishers want!

  2. As a book store owner, I can tell you that we think of “big” publishers the way we think of “big studio” movies. If you want class, you have to go to the small guys. We sell a lot of Harper Collins stuff. You’ll be fine. Meanwhile, you had to almost admire the hubris of a publisher that would dump someone after two Pulitzer nominations.

  3. I didn’t know Random House dropped you! Let me tell you something that may interest you. (which I believe is Random House) has a Read It Forward group on It hasn’t been active lately, but in 2012 it was.

    Through this group’s COMMENT section, I had a little conversation with the readitforward person. He/she asked people in the group, what was your favorite historical fiction. I answered with two of your books. Her/his reply: Oooh, we agree! She’s one of ours (or they’re ours).

    That wasn’t exactly what they said, but that was the jist of it. If I had known that they had just dropped you or were about to, I would have said more, like their loss, HarperCollins’ gain.

  4. I read 2 paragraphs of “Fifty Shades” online, just to see what all the hullabaloo was about, and dismissed it immediately. The writing is absolutely atrocious. I cannot tolerate writing like that. Mary has spoiled me in that respect! 😉
    I hope Ecco knows what it has in you, Mary, and does you justice by promoting the hell out of “Epitaph”!! If anyone deserves it, YOU do!!! 🙂 Fall of 2014 feels like a long wait, but time flies and it will be here before we know it. Something to look forward to!!!! 🙂

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