The Midlist is dead! Long live the Midlist!
Midlist authors are those authors who never made it to the best sellers lists, but still sold books. Aka- they're the bulk of the books you'd see in a bookstore. Back in the day when publishing was a different creature, there were far more midlist authors than you'd see today. And many of them would have multiple books out in a year.
Were these folks getting rich? Heck no, like most writers they all had days jobs or other sources of income.
Were they making the publishers rich? Double heck no. But the publishing world was different then, and the system worked with all those middle range authors plunking along (the majority of authors I read were all midlist).
Then sometime in the 80's-90's the midlist started to be killed off. Authors lost their contracts in droves- as a bookstore manager I saw many familiar names either slow down in books per year or vanish completely.
Fast forward to the days of small publishers and self-publishing. Not vanity publishing- that evil term used long ago- this was a new world. These were small publishing houses and individual authors coming forth with books- tons of books. Books that NY didn't want because they didn't think the sales would reach the 50,000 mark.
But the small online presses and independent author publishers don't need 50,000 sales. Or even 40,000. Those numbers would be great, but being smaller, or solo, means that a book could be a success at a midlist level.
The vast majority of books found today on Amazon are midlist. And more importantly they are still selling. Readers are finding them and enjoying them even though they may not be a best seller. I have read bestsellers that in my opinion were utter crap. I've also read smaller books that were awesome.
I was actually very sad in the 80's and 90's when the herds of midlist authors were culled by publishers. I'm glad to know they are coming back- maybe not the same authors (although hopefully some of them will as well) but a new group of authors, writing books readers want to read under their own terms.
The midlist has come back from the dead, and it's looking good.
Long live the Midlist!