Why you can skip over the best sellers

A Snarkling has a conniption:

(Quoting Miss Snark) Should I skip over the latest Sue Grafton or Robert Parker? (yes) EXCUSE ME? Read Robert Ludlum David Morrell, Stephen Hunter, John Le Carre, David Baldacci James lee Burke Lee Child Tom Clancy Harlan Coben Stephen Coonts Robert Crais Jeffery Deaver James W Hall Nelson DeMille sheesh these gin drinkers:)

You're missing the point. Those writers have established careers, or they are dead, or BOTH. Yes they write well but they aren't trying to break in to publishing.

When you are trying to sell your first novel, read debut novels. See what editors liked about THESE to give them a shot. Yes James Lee Burke is the best writer working in the English language today, and yes its good to read his stuff, but he's working on a multiple book contract and his agent just sends them the next book (ok, not exactly but yanno, you get the idea).

You'd do much better to read the books in "Best First novel" categories than any backlist.


SAND STORM said...

Conniption quelled and duly noted as was your snarkiferious reply.

Anonymous said...

Burke's agent, something Spitzer, subbed Burke's first crime novel for years, collecting over 100 rejections from editors. Just a hunch but something tells me Burke wrote what he wanted to write and never once worried about what other first time novelists were doing...

Debby G. said...

Thank you, Miss Snark.

It was difficult for me to sell my first novel. But once the door opened, selling the next three novels was much easier. First novel have to shine. It's very smart for writers to read them to try to discern what made them saleable.

So many people have e-mailed me for advice or a referral to my agent without having read my novel. I am much more willing to give favors to writers who take the time to read my stuff. They don't even have to buy it (though that's preferable). It's in libraries. And I'm even more inclined to help writers who take the five minutes to post a favorable review of my book on Amazon or a public message board.

Writers talk about wanting mentors, but many expect a take-and-take situation.

Mary Louisa said...

I highly recommend Harley Jane Kozak's DATING DEAD MEN, which has won a slew of awards, including not one, but THREE best first mystery awards.

Anonymous said...

Last week I read the PB of Alex Kava's debut novel, A Perfect Evil. I'll never read another of her books. I was attracted by the cover and title, so didn't pay attention to the imprint. My mistake. How the publisher figured this contrived, "hot & bothered" drivel was worthy of a series is beyond me. If Kava is an example of what is selling commercially, Miss Snark needs to sign up all of her Crapometer rejects immediately.

Michael Connelly and Jonathan Kellerman are my author role models. Their novels seem real and the writing flows. Once I start reading, I can't stop and when I get to the end, I crave more. Sometimes it's better to read the masters to learn the craft.

Sand Storm & Cornelia have good lists! Love Karin Slaughter, David Baldacci, Lee Child, et al. I browsed Laura Lippman's Web site and was impressed enough to buy one of her novels.

Finally, it isn't my genre, but Synopsis 58 made me laugh 'til it hurt. Hope the ms is equally great and makes it to print.

Emelle in OK

Miss Snark said...

Alex Kava is published by Mira, aka Harlequin. This is not the place to find books if you like Jonathan Kellerman and Michael Connelly. Mira sells books hand over fist but not to that market.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Miss Snark. MIRA was on the spine, but I was reading "A killer is watching" on the cover. At least I try to read debut novels as well as the tried-and-true. That's how I found Karin Slaughter, Theresa Monsour and Kathy Reichs. Alex Kava may be a good writer; if so, her talent is wasted at MIRA.


Schaz said...

Where did "Yanno, some nights you just need some more gin" go? It was the post preceding this one in the feed, and it's disappeared from your blog.

After reading the querant's website, I wanted to read the comments on your post.

THRILL said...

Interestingly, Alex Kava was originally repped by Philip Spitzer, who is very highly regarded.

And MIRA knows their market... it's not to be sneezed at. Check Miss Snark's abacus--and the bestseller lists.