Monday, March 22, 2010

Debut Authors and the ‘It’ Factor

Over the weekend I read a debut novel. When I finished it, I sat back and wondered what it was about that particular book that caught the editor’s eye, made her pick up the phone and say “I’ll buy it.” Don’t get me wrong – it was a good book, with a terrific opening chapter and a fast-paced plot. The author is a friend of mine and I had watched this same manuscript final in many a contest before it was finally snatched up. My last manuscript has also finaled in many contests. So why did hers sell and mine hasn’t (yet)? OK, so maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges because hers was an inspirational romantic suspense and mine’s a sexy medieval time-travel. But it got me to wondering. We’ve all heard editors tell us they can’t predict the next big thing, but they know it when they see it. So just what is ‘it’?

First, some statistics. (There’s nothing scientific about these numbers. I pulled them from RWR’s First Sales announcements for 2009 so the statistics are only as good as the number of authors who reported them). The first number is the number of debut authors for 2009. The number in parentheses is the number of paranormal first sales (since we’re all paranormal writers here.)

January – 12 (1)
February – 22 (5)
March – 14 (3)
April – 27 (4)
May – 8 (3)
June – 16 (5)
July – 16 (5)
August – 13 (1)
September – 9 (3)
October – 13 (3)
November – 10 (0)
December – 7 (3)

So for 2009 there were about 167 debut authors and 36 of those were paranormals. So what’s it going to take to make me one of the potentially 150+ debut authors for 2010? To help improve my odds, I’ve decided I’m going to do some major reading of debut paranormal authors (all in the name of research, mind you *G*) to see if I can determine what the ‘it’ factor is each of these authors has. I’ll report back here on April 5th (I think that’s my Monday to post) with my first analytical book review. Gretchen will be happy. There are zombies in it. *G*


  1. I love analysis! Looking forward to the reviews.

  2. I can't wait to find out what you discover. I want to have that IT factor in my stories too.