Here's more evidence that we have no clue how to predict success: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publisher. One hundred and twenty one! Holy shite. I can't imagine living through so many rejections.
I liked the book, but I think it let down the reader by being a search for the definition of quality, and then giving up and never reaching it. I've addressed this before.
Why can't we predict success? When millions of people turn out to love a book, you'd think that one of them would be in the place of one of the 121 editors who the book went through?