This is one of those "little book that could" stories. It's called Life's Greatest Lessons: 20 Things I Want My Kids to Know, and the author is Hal Urban, a retired high school teacher from the Bay Area. His book, originally published by Nelson in 1992, did well enough, selling out a first printing of 16,000 and then went out of print. Urban republished it himself, sold a further 60,000 copies on his own (he's a tireless promoter) and won a Writer's Digest Inspirational Book of the Year award in 2000. Enter Chicago-based agent Joseph Durepos, who sought, along with a number of other agents, to take him on. Urban resisted for a long time, but after September 11, when a new rush of orders came in, Urban finally tired of doing it all himself and agreed to have the agent seek a large publisher. Four of the 10 editors Durepos sent the book to responded with offers within a week, but it was Caroline Sutton at Simon & Schuster who came up with a strong low-six-figure offer and will launch it in January next year.