Although I have not been able to find any, I assume that at one time publishers’ book lists were simple one-page price lists that salesmen used when selling to bookstores. Now many “lists” are thick color catalogs, website pages or PDF downloads.
- A “front list” book is new, expected to sell well and receives a lot of promotional effort.
- A “back list” book was probably published years ago. Sales are not so dismal that the book goes out-of-print, but it receives little or no promotional effort.
- A “midlist” book, as you might assume, is between front and back. Most books are midlist.
- Midlist and backlist books are important in publishing because they bring in money year after year with little or no effort or expense. Some writers are referred to as “midlist authors.”
A black list, on the other hand, is a list of things or people to avoid. Try not to be on one of those.
(From my new 1001 Powerful Pieces of Author Advice