Pub Rants

Still Room For The Debut

 25 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: Ack! A radio station in Denver is playing Holiday music 24/7. It’s not even Thanksgiving folks! That’s just wrong.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ANNIE’S SONG by John Denver

So tonight, I had great intentions of going through my notes and highlighting all the other bits of information about what editors are looking for.

Guess where I left my notes? At the office. Guess where I’m sitting right now? In my living room at home. Yep, just another moment of brilliance….

But this I can say without any notes. Every editor I talked to this past week (and I was at all the major houses) spotlighted a debut author on their 2009 list. All these editors were excited about these new authors and I don’t think that sentiment has disappeared.

Every person I know in publishing lives for that moment when we dive into a requested full manuscript and we realize we are reading something special.

In fact, despite account orders being generally down across the board, I have a debut author launching in 2009 and orders were actually up from the projections for that title.

So I wouldn’t spend time lamenting the current condition of the publishing industry (although there is a lot of grim news).

I would be concentrating on writing the best freaking novel you are capable of writing because lots of debuts astound the market. Just ask David Wroblewski.

25 Responses

  1. Sara Merrick said:

    Thank you. I’m glad you decided to post from home. My eyes are burning from working on my manuscript and staring at the screen. Reading your words is an encouraging way to end the night.

  2. Angie said:

    I totally agree that it is too early for nonstop Christmas music–and I just discovered there is a second station in Denver contributing to this abomination!

  3. Shawn said:

    I can do you one better – or would it be worse – in the’just wrong’ department, Kristin. Here in Milwaukee we have a station that’s been 24/7 Christmas since Halloween!

    I’m looking forward to your notes. You message about editors looking for more MG has already encouraged me. :o)

  4. Amy Nathan said:

    I refuse to be swayed by the statistics…and appreciate the glimmer of hope.

    Possibilities in all areas of love, life and work are what drive us to move forward, to dream, to strive and to accomplish.

    Without that – we’d all throw up our hands in defeat.

    And then where would we be? No good new books by debut authors!

  5. Heidi C. Vlach said:

    Christmas music already, I know, it’s crazy! I walked into a mall the day after Halloween, and I had to just stand there and boggle for a second at the tune of Silent Night.

    And The Story of Edgar Sawtelle sounds fascinating, that one’s going on my To Read list!

  6. Anonymous said:

    I have to disagree with Kristin’s assesment. Yes, debut authors can astound the marketplace IF they are lead titles, but that is a big, sorry if. Even when times are good it’s rare for an author to get any type of publisher marketing support and many great books are delegated to being mid-list because of it.

    In this slowing economy I can’t foresee lots of money being spent to usher in debut authors when continual best sellers — such as Scott Westerfield, others — offer no-risk with marketing money.

    I hope I’m proven wrong, though.

    Truthfully, I find more joy in so called mid-list books than I do from publisher’s heavily promoted lead titles. I’ve never quite been able to figure out why — they seem more authentic in some way, and less like the that big, summerblockbuster “tent” movie that everyone tells you is great, but you forget as soon as you leave the theater.

  7. Anonymous said:

    “… concentrate on writing the best freaking novel you can…”


    I laugh because I’ve heard this advice from three different pub sites now.

    “Write the best novel you can” As opposed to when? When was there EVER a time in the history of publishing that writers purposely didn’t write the best novel they could, but instead, purposely wrote crap and got it published?

  8. ChristaCarol said:

    I’m frequently scatter brained, mostly due to my pregnancy. It’s good to hear there’s a light at the end of the grim tunnel of the publishing industry’s current condition. Thanks for being uplifting and positive about the situation, it helps those of us trying to break in feel a little less discouraged.

  9. RK said:

    So glad to know there’s still hope for debuts.

    Of course, the bottom line is the writing. I read an excerpt from Edgar Sawtelle –lovely writing.

  10. LA said:

    Here in St. Louis we’ve had one playing it since mid-October. I wanted to scream at the radio the first day I heard it.

  11. Jonathan Dozier-Ezell said:

    As a writer currently looking for an agent to shop my first novel, the news about debuts (sorry for the rhyme) is heartening. But looking ahead, what does that say about my second novel or my third?

    If publishers are taking on fewer projects but still seeking debuts, won’t the sophomores suffer? Maybe I should worry less about my unwritten second than my finished first, but I also don’t want to join the list of the unknown authors who publish one book and are never heard from again. Won’t this tend to increase the number of those authors forgotten in the mid-list?

  12. The Writers Canvas said:

    Thanks for the encouraging post, Kristin! And I agree with you about the 24/7 holiday music. Eventually they’ll start playing it every Labor Day!

    Not sure about other writers, but I find the winter season is an ideal time to cozy up and crank out those pages. And so I shall 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed NYC!


  13. DebraLSchubert said:

    Kristin, I love this post! It’s so nice to hear something positive as I rewrite (and rewrite, and rewrite) my book. And, how weird is it listening to Christmas music when it’s close to 80 degrees outside?

  14. Kiersten said:

    I just signed with an agent, and have been slightly stressed out reading everywhere about how bad the industry is right now, etc etc. It was disheartening to think that I finally got a great agent, only to potentially be foiled by the economy.

    Thanks for offering a different viewpoint!

  15. Anonymous said:

    I’m giving books for Xmas this year.
    My small part, as a writer, to support the industry.
    One day, when I’m published, I’ll have a little good karma in the bank.
    I urge other writers to do the same.

  16. Christina Berry said:

    Thanks for stating this so well. I’ve been trying to break in to the CBA market for the last seven years and when do I finally land a contract with a fabulous house?

    This month!

    BTW, this is my first time commenting though I’ve been here every couple days for the last month. 🙂

  17. Rebekah said:

    I stumbled across your blog the other day from who-knows-where, and I’m getting addicted! I’m working on my first novel right now and I’m captivated by both your advice to writers and the daily grind of the work you do – I had no idea what goes on behind the scenes in the industry.

    And I will be back! :o)

  18. Kasey Mackenzie said:

    I have to second what Rachael just said. My agent just sold my debut for a three book deal (a good deal) at auction. I did not have any prior publishing credits or connections (other than my agent who I signed with via her slush pile). Just keep writing and learning the craft, rinse and repeat, because it CAN be done, even when the economy seems to be in the toilet.