There’s still hope for new writers!

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

I’d like to share some encouraging statistics today! In 2017, Books & Such helped eight writers sell their debut projects!

One of my favorite things to do is to call a debut client to tell him or her that we received an offer. It’s such a delight to share in the moment when that author’s dreams become a reality. All sales are extremely exciting, but there is something extra special about getting an offer on a debut. We discovered our debut clients and have believed in them from the beginning. We’ve often spent years working hard together to find just the right project to catch the editor’s eye.

Every year, at Books & Such, our book sales are comprised of three different kinds of books. We have the debut projects; the “renewables” (new projects sold to the publishing house of an established author); and the books by established authors who are either starting out at a new publishing house or who publish with multiple publishing houses.

This year at Books & Such, we sold projects for eight debut authors! One of the debut sales was fiction and the other seven were nonfiction.  The fiction author has sold multiple projects this year. These eight projects are a small percentage of our total agency sales, but it is a wonderful number of new authors starting out in the publishing world. I hope hearing of these debut sales is an encouragement to those of you who have heard there is no room for debut authors. There are slots for debut authors, and many editors are excited to get books from new talent. Plus Books & Such is just one agency. I’m sure other agents are getting debut sales, too.

Finding the right project, agent, or editor takes time, so I hope you’ll stick with it and follow your dreams even when the publishing industry can seem so discouraging at times.

59 Responses

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  1. Rachel, that is truly good news. Congratulations to the newest debut authors of Books and Such!

  2. “I give hope to Men, I keep none for myself.” – Aragorn
    * Write in the hope of service, because only that which we freely give away can ever be truly ours.

  3. Rachel, I’m glad Books & Such managed to get contracts for seven non-fiction and one fiction book by debut authors. Of course, there were a bunch of other authors, both established and new, represented by the agency who weren’t given new or renewal contracts. Do you think that the paucity of contracts with traditional publishing houses is leading more writers to the world of self-publishing?

    • Carol Ashby says:

      Retention of rights is what drove our decision to go indie, Richard, but how could the seeming impossibility for a debut author to find a traditional publisher not have that effect for many writers? Especially fiction writers, who mostly won’t have a natural platform from being a recognized expert in an area before they even write the first novel.

      • Sharon Cowen says:

        Hi Carol,

        I’ve followed your responses on Bob Hostetler’s blog as well. As a debut (fiction) author, I feel the pain. I’ve finished my first book, and have struggled with what to do now. So far, no success, though I keep trying. I am learning as I go. It’s encouraging to hear from another writer of historical fiction. (Mine is not about the Romans, but about the murder of a young girl who lived across the road from my great grandfather in 1872 in the rural Midwest.) Have you been happy with your decision?

      • Carol Ashby says:

        Yes, Sharon, but I’m very happy with selling one to two thousand copies a year of a title. I’m writing as a calling to share stories of the power of forgiveness and love to change lives. I’m not looking to develop a career and make a living as an author, although it’s turning into a second career for me. I work at it full time, what with researching and writing for a major part of my platform (a Roman history site), working on the next novel in the series, and marketing. If you don’t want the burden of running a small business, I’d say think more than twice before you go indie.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I do think that many writers are going to self-publishing because it is tough to get a contract. Debut or not, publishing contracts aren’t a guarantee. You are right.

  4. As one of those debut nonfiction authors, I am so thankful for the hard, behind-the-scenes work of my agent (Janet) and all the others at Books & Such!

  5. Always good to hear good news. Maybe I’ll be one of those “debut” authors one day!

  6. For what it may be worth, to be filed under ‘keeping hope alive’, I am finding that as my situation grows more hopeless, hope itself burns all the brighter to warm and illuminate my days.
    * Yeah, that sounds really stupid. A mentally lethal overdose on The Power Of Positive Thinking.
    * But there may be something deeper and true at work; it’s hard to breathe, and I’m grateful for every breath. It’s hard to move, and every step is a small miracle. It’s hard to write, and the rationed effort means every word has to have meaning.
    * What if all these together, the gratitude and the wonder and the exacting need discovered accidentally and at painful cost, are the soil and the water and the sunlight of hope’s nurturing?
    * What if it means that hope is not what we have, but what we become?

  7. One of my favorite people once told me that debut authors are hard to place. I love that B&S doesn’t give up. That’s very encouraging news. It seems like when I feel my hope and creativity taking a nose-dive, something sweet happens that keeps me going. I entered my work into the Mount Hermon First-Timers Contest and was selected. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t wait to see you, Jennifer Major.

  8. Very encouraging!
    Thank you 😀

  9. Patricia Iacuzzi says:

    Thanks for this, Rachel– So uplifting! We are each a part of HIStory. Blessings everyone!

  10. Lynn horton says:

    Rachel, I’d like to know if the seven-to-one ratio of non-fiction to fiction debut authors in traditional publishing reflects acquisitions in CBA publishing as a whole, or if it is unique to Books & Such authors. Any idea?

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I believe there are many more opportunities for debut nonfiction writers than fiction, unfortunately. There just aren’t as many houses publishing fiction these days.

  11. Lara Hossselton says:

    How exciting for the debut authors and B&S! Thank for sharing the encouraging news.

  12. Thanks for sharing Rachel. I had the privilege of meeting Cynthia and hearing her speak at a conference last fall, and the experience gave me such a positive impression of B&S. She was such a delight and an encourager. Since then I have followed news from your agency much more closely, and I love what you are doing and the way your company distinguishes itself. And to know you take pride in helping debut authors makes it even better. Best wishes to the debut authors and to those who are helping them get there.

  13. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Thank you for this encouragement, Rachel. I echo Lynn and wonder if the 7:1 ratio is generally reflective of the publishing industry or just the way projects broke for B & S this year?

    • Rachel Kent says:

      There aren’t very many CBA houses publishing fiction any more. So it does tend to be easier for nonfiction debut writers. For the past 4 years our debut sales at Books & Such have had this trend.

  14. Rob says:

    I’m interested in compiling column-sized articles into a book, but I’m not sure whether or not there’s a market for that. Many of the articles have been published in a newspaper which is so small that my column was once bumped for a dry cleaning ad! I write humor, or at least tragedy with clown makeup.

  15. Congratulations to your debut authors. How exciting!

  16. David Todd says:

    Interesting post and stats, Rachel, confirming things I’d heard, and informing on other things.
    I’ve heard non-fiction outsells fiction 8:1, industry-wide, including both CBA and general market. Your agency’s debut writer sales confirm that.
    You had 1.6 debut sales per agent. If there are 50 equally qualified agents plying their profession in the CBA market, that’s 80 debut author books per year. Or, if you think that is low, 100 agents would have 160 debut author sales. I don’t know how many books CBA publishers publish per year, but 80 to 160 debut authors per year is somewhat higher than I would have figured. So that’s encouraging. Unless, that is, B&S exceeds the performance of other agencies. If so, the numbers I give are too high.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I am not sure how we could know this number for sure unless all CBA agents did a little blog like mine. I do think our agency is rather wonderful and successful, but I’m biased. 🙂 80 sounds high to me, but it could be accurate. I don’t know.

  17. Yay! That’s so good to hear, Rachel. Thank you.

  18. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    What of “creative non-fiction”? I’m thinking about the old stories of Michelangelo and Van Gogh; also made into movies. Or other biographies where the setting was so far back (like the Roman Empire) that the scenes might need to be written in a creative way, like fiction, especially with dialogue. Anyone know how these types of novels fare today? Or, is strictly non-fiction narrative preferred? Thanks!