It's Monday...great day for nihilism

Dear Miss Snark,

I was wondering if it can ever be harmful to an aspiring author to have been previously published? For instance if your first book was published but did not do well, would that make things tougher for you the second time around
than if you were starting from zero?

I am currenly finishing up my first novel (finishing the third "final" revision) and I will shortly begin the query process. However I feel that I am still growing as a writer and that my work will get better with more time and practice. I was wondering if any harm could come from trying to publish book one or if there might be a good reason to just shelve it and wait for
book two.

well, knowing you're going to die, why invest any effort in living?

You have to start somewhere.
Yes, it can be a tough sell with book two if book one tanks.

None of that is your problem right now.
Finish the book.
Send it out.
Make lots of mistakes.
Learn from mistakes.
Repeat as necessary.


Nut said...

Yay, Ms Snark! What do you call this shampoo?

Sherri said...

The best advice in the blogophere. I think I'm going to print it out and hang it up on my monitor, i.e. steal it and post it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

My question for the writer is "Did a publisher write you an advance check?"

With all the venues out there *anyone* can get "published." That's not the same as making a sale.

Getting an advance against sales check is what sets you apart. (That's how things work in my little corner of the universe, anyway.)

As for feeling you're still growing as a writer--welcome to the club, snooks. Getting better at the craft is part of the package and it never stops. If you think you've made it based on one sale go stand in the corner. I've sold over twenty books and the only thing I'm certain of is that I don't know everything about my writing just yet.

The good writers NEVER stop growing at their craft.

Now--back to the keyboard and come up with proposals for your next FIVE books!

archer said...

You say you are hardly qualified to write books just yet. That just why I recommend that you try...One progresses in this as in all things by resolutely making a fool of onesself.

GBS, in a letter to Golding Bright

Nicky said...

Good advice, as ever, Miss Snark. Persevere, try, try, try again and keep at it. Sounds tedious but it's the only way to learn.

Richard said...

On the other hand, the writer here has a point. The technology for tracking the sales of books has improved to the extent where every publisher nowadays knows down to the last dime whether your last book did well or not. That doesn't mean that one failure condemns you a lifetime of rejection slips. But it does have the ironic effect of making it less likely that you'll earn the huge advances sometimes handed out to "debutantes."

Lorra said...

Thanks for the boost -- much needed this week.

Anonymous said...

Richard's right. A bad debut can sink your career. That doesn't mean you shouldn't publish it, but make sure you know how your book will reach its audience -- and how much of that work you'll be expected to do yourself.

A big house has higher expectations than a small one, but might write off your book if the sales staff doesn't like it. If the book earns out its advance, whatever amount that is, you'll be in better shape to sell the next book. But be aware that many sales staffs consider prior track record to be the most important thing when considering whether they can sell your book. If they don't like it, they can overrule an editor who loves it.

Anonymous said...

Bad debut?

One-word cure.


Worked for a pal of mine. First books tanked, no sales. Took on another name, came out with a "first" novel, sales are just great, thank-you-for-asking.