Writer Jim C. Hines has done a very helpful survey of 246 novelists to explore the following questions:
1) Do you have to sell short stories first to sell a novel?
2) Is self-publishing the way to go to sell a first novel to a publisher?
3) Are most first sales of a novel an overnight success story?
4) Do you have to have personal connections to the publishing industry to sell a first novel?
I’m not going to tell what the answers are, because I think it’s important to visit Jim’s website to read his detailed answers and analysis there.
Here’s what Jim says on his website about his survey:
For this study, I was looking for authors who had published at least one professional novel, where “professional” was defined as earning an advance of $2000 or more. This is an arbitrary amount based on SFWA’s criteria for professional publishers. No judgment is implied toward authors who self-publish or work with smaller presses, but for this study, I wanted data on breaking in with the larger publishers.
247 authors from a range of genres responded. One was eliminated because the book didn’t fit the criteria (it was for a nonfiction title). A random audit found no other problems.
The first part of the survey is Novel Survey Results, Part 1 (answers questions 1 & 2). Second part has just been posted today as Novel Survey Results, Part 2 (answering questions 3 & 4). There will be a third part next week.