Monday Advice from Editors and Agents: If your first book doesn’t perform well

Sorry, readers. This post is a day late due to my computer “forgetting” my user profile! Thank you, Best Buy, for restoring me.

Books For SaleCurtis Yates is a lawyer AND an agent. He and agency partners Matt and Sealy Curtis blog at

Recently, Curtis talked about what you can do to help your career if your first (or last) book tanked.


Publisher Expectations

It’s easy to understand a publisher’s inclination to expect sales of Book A to be somewhat predictive of sales of Book B by the same author. Retailers feel the same way. If they couldn’t get rid of all the copies they ordered of Book A, they’ll certainly order fewer of Book B.

You may feel there were good reasons for the slow sales – a Christmas plot that, for some reason, didn’t reach the shelves until late December, the publisher moved up (or back) the publication date after all the blog tours and autographings were set up, a book with an almost identical storyline by a very famous author came out the same month, etc.  But you can’t resurrect the dead and you need to move on to Book B, which you believe is enormously better than Book A and deserves a bigger print run and bigger push.

How do you convince the publisher that you’re an even better bet now?


Yate’s Advice

“You’ve got to give the publisher some tangible things they can go back and give the retailer as to how your second book is going to outperform the last.”

Yes, but how do you do that? Well, you can start by talking about

  • Your website: Has it been redesigned? Are you updating it frequently with new material? Does it include interactive material and are you getting responses? How many unique visitors per month do you get?
  • Your blog: Are you posting more frequently? How many comments are you getting and how many subscribers? Are you seeking guest blogging opportunities?
  • Social media: How many new followers do you have now on Facebook and twitter? Are you posting regularly, retweeting, etc.? Are you becoming well-known on Goodreads? Do you have an author page on Amazon?
  • Other media: Have you done any vlogs, or spoken at conferences/meetings? Have you written articles for print or online publications?

In other words: How are you working to become better known? If your first book didn’t make you a household word, will what you’re doing right now change that?

It’s tough

Baby Working On A LaptopIf it seems like the publishers are asking you to reach out to your potential new audience IN ADVANCE of Book 2, you’re probably right. It’s like pre-marketing for a newbie author. It’s like being a newbie all over again. Ugh.


About Donna Maloy, Author

Captivating romantic suspense. History, mystery, and sometimes... a little touch of fantasy.
This entry was posted in Business of Writing, Promotion, The second book and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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