We talk a lot about how to sell that first novel to a major publisher, but it’s hard sometimes to draw any real conclusions on the best way to break in when all we’ve got is a lot of anecdotal data. Everyone’s path is different. The experience of someone who broke in twenty years ago might not match the realities of publishing today. For that matter, the experience of someone who broke in today might not match the realities of someone else who broke in today.
So, taking a page from Tobias Buckell and his first novel advance survey, I’ve put together a survey about selling that first novel. I would love it if anyone who has sold at least one novel (any genre, including tie-ins — there’s a question where you can enter genre) to a professional publisher (for at least a $2000 advance[1. The minimum $2000 advance is an arbitrary cutoff point, which I took from SFWA's guidelines for professional publishers.]) could take a few minutes to click the survey link and answer about a dozen questions. If you don’t have exact numbers, please give your best estimate.
The survey will remain open through March 15. Pass it on. The more data I can pull together, the more useful the results will be. Please send people to this post instead of directly to the survey, so they get the introductory info.
I’ll post the results next month after the survey closes. This is rough, Mythbusters-style science — it’s not going to be a truly random sample, and it’s not a controlled experimental design, but it should give us some results. And it’s far better than “Well, this one guy who wrote a book once told me this is the way to sell your novel…”
If any of the survey questions are unclear, or if the survey itself gives people any trouble, please let me know ASAP so I can get that fixed.
ETA 1: For purposes of this survey, I’m not counting coauthored novels. I’m looking for the first professional novel sale where you were the sole author.
ETA 2: I do ask for book titles for verification and deduplication, if necessary. This and any other identifying information will be stripped out before anything is made public.
ETA 3: I’m looking for brand new authors and grizzled veterans alike. The broader the range of data, the more likely we’ll be able to see if certain trends have changed over time.
Thanks in advance!