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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > APRIL 2017 > Meeting the mark

Meeting the mark

Book clubs often are dismissed as an excuse for women to gossip and drink wine. But it’s hard to ignore their influence on sales

FEATURE

Lawrence Hill never thought his third novel would become a commercial success. It was 2008 – one year after HarperCollins published The Book of Negroes – and conventional publishing wisdom suggested that if the sprawling historical novel hadn’t grabbed media and book-buyers’ attention within the first few weeks of its release, it wasn’t going to turn into a bestseller a year later. But Hill was proven wrong that summer, while visiting Prince Edward Island. An acquaintance congratulated the author on The Book of Negroes landing on the national bestsellers’ list. Hill thought they must be mistaken, but to be sure, he checked the newspaper – and there it was. Each week following that pleasant surprise, the book continued its rise up the chart, until it became the number-one seller in Canada. The novel remained in the top spot for the better part of the next two years, selling more than 750,000 net copies.

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