While posting last week about PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK, I mentioned the word-of-mouth bestseller, THE HELP. All last year, friends and family recommended this book to me. One friend would ask, “Have you read it yet?” every time I ran into her. My mother gave me her copy over Christmas and joined the “have you read it?” chorus. I figured it was time to get busy.
I took my copy on our Mardi Gras road trip (we get the whole week off in Southern Louisiana) and fell in love. THE HELP is amazing, heartbreaking, amazing, lovely, amazing, funny, amazing. I don’t know how else to talk about this title, so I’ll give the New York Times a shot. As you read the excerpt below, notice the strength of this debut novel rests on fabulous writing, yes, but something more: devoted readers all part of the “have you read it?” campaign.
Taken from The New York Times:
“The Help,” a novel about the relationships between African-American maids and their white employers in 1960s Mississippi, has the classic elements of a crowd pleaser: it features several feisty women enmeshed in a page-turning plot, clear villains and a bit of a history lesson.
The book, a debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, also comes with a back story that is a publishing dream come true: at first rejected by nearly 50 agents, the manuscript was scooped up by an imprint of Penguin and pushed aggressively to booksellers, who fell in love with it. Since it came out in February, “The Help” has been embraced by book clubs and bloggers who can’t stop recommending it to their friends.
All of which helps explain why “The Help” — which some enthusiasts have compared to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” — has maintained a tenacious hold close to the top of several best-seller lists, despite one of the strongest seasons for big-name authors in recent memory. Amid blockbusters from the likes of Dan Brown, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell and Nicholas Sparks, Ms. Stockett has stayed within the Top 5 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller list since August.
“It is running and it’s going to continue to run,” said Vivienne L. Jennings, co-owner of Rainy Day Books, an independent bookstore in Fairway, Kan.
According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, “The Help” has sold 445,000 copies in hardcover. At Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest retail bookstore chain, Sessalee Hensley, the chain’s fiction buyer, said the number of copies sold per week had grown steadily since August. “I think it’s completely word of mouth,” she said.
When others get behind a book, magical things can happen. So I have to know: have you read it yet?