I read recently on Query Shark that you feel if "it's no longer your first novel" ... then it's "less enticing." I was wondering how less enticing a second novel could be to an agent/publisher.
I published my first novel with a very small west coast press. It was nice getting published and seeing my book on (select) bookstore shelves, but my publisher was so small, their idea of book promotion was pretty much telling their friends about it.
I don't regret the publication experience (the book got a really good Kirkus Review and it sold a few copies) but I wonder: how much will my being the previously published author of a low-selling book hurt my chances of having my query letter responded to by agents?
I have a math brain (I know, strange for a writer). Can you answer in a percentage? (ie. 20% less likely).....
Also, do agents see a big difference between an author having a book published by a major publishing house (and then failing to achieve sales) and an author publishing a book with a small publisher and only reaching a small audience? (In my opinion, an agent would be crazy to hold it against an author for poor sales figures when the publishing house is small & regional)....
It's much much easier to get an editor's attention for a debut novel than it is for your Debut +N novel.
That's just a fact of the publishing world these days.
There's no way to quantify that desirability (ie no, it's not 20% less or PiRSquared less or even the cube root of Rubik's less)
When I sign an author for a book that is not debut, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve about how to position the book for pitching. I'm not going to tell you what they are. I'm sure every agent worth her salt has a slew of them as well.
If you get an agent for the book that's one of the things you want to ask before you sign: what's your submission strategy here? And "oh, just send it out and see what happens" is NOT the answer you want to sign with.
And yes, where that first book was published matters a lot.
This is where you want to be very careful who you sign with. You want an agent with some real experience here. There's a lot to be said for the younger ones starting out (and more than a few started
here at the Reef) but some things come with experience and this is one of them.