Does Maple Syrup Effect Sales?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One of the things book publishing executives talk about most often over lunch is the injustice of authors who treat their staff poorly but whose books are very successful, as opposed to the authors who are so incredibly nice to everyone, but whose books don't sell. I remember once complaining about a particular author's bad behavior to Marcy Goot, when she was marketing director at what was then called Warner Books, and I was an editor there. Marcy's theory was that the pushy, never-satisfied rude ones actually sell better because the same relentlessness that wore us down in-house would later lead to bestsellerdom when the book was on sale. We all hope that this isn't true, though, and cherish the authors who manage to be both successful and kind. When we published Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Hyperion in 1995 with a 35,000-copy first printing, Richard Carlson was a gracious, appreciative guy. After that book sold nine million copies, Richard Carlson was still a gracious, appreciative guy. He was delighted by our efforts, even when subsequent books didn't match those extraordinary sales.

I was reminded of him yesterday when Joann Davis, an author whose fable The Book of the Shepherd will be published by HarperStudio this October, stopped by to pick up the first copy off press, bringing maple syrup with her for everyone on our staff. I'd like to think that it's Joann's good karma that led Paulo Coelho to give her an endorsement, and to this unknown little book being sold in 18 languages so far, before publication. Nothing would be sweeter than to see someone so persistently generous and thoughtful make the bestseller list -- not even maple syrup, fresh from Vermont.