Dear Miss Snark --
I recieved a phonecall from an agent today that left me puzzled; I hope you can help me make sense of it. He had read my manuscript and while he thought it was good, and even sellable, it wasn't a "breakout" book. Therefore, he was passing. That's all well and good, but then he told me that in today's market it was a bad idea to have one of your books published that wasn't a breakout best-seller, as it would doom you to small books forever. So, his advice was to shelve this book, and every one I write after it until I had something that could clear a big advance, get the requisite press and marketing push and be a best seller.
What's your take on this?
EVERY agent and editor I know has more stories than fingers and toes about books they thought would sell like hotcakes, and didn't.
Same ratio for books they thought would do just ok and then zoomed into the stratosphere.
A lot of us make a very nice living selling things that never see a best seller list.
Query other people.