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'Underestimating the reading public'

23 May 2005

'I would say the biggest problem is underestimating the reading audience. I've always written cross-genre books: a suspense novel with a love story inside and some comedy. But publishers resisted this strenuously. Everything has to be labelled, and sold that way. If you're writing a series, there is pressure to keep things narrow and not break out. Books like Herman Wouk's The Winds of War and James Clavell's Shogun have largely disappeared from the bestseller list. The common wisdom is that readers don't have the patience they once did. But underestimating the reading public is a very big mistake. If there was more trust in the public, it would pay off. An editor once told me that if I didn't keep my vocabulary to 500 words I'd never make the best-seller list.'

Dean Koontz, who sells about 17 million copies of his books and gets over 30,000 fan letters a year, in the Wall Street Journal.