Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Second Book, Easier or Harder?

I recently saw a discussion about whether book two is easier to get published than book one. From my point of view, I think it is pretty obvious that it is. Just look at it in terms of years. If it takes ten years for an author to get the first book published and the contract for book two is in place even before book one reaches the shelves then it is obvious that the author didn’t have as much trouble getting the second published. But let’s look at why this is.

The first reason is that the author already has an agent. Agents don’t really like signing new clients. What they really want is for their existing clients to make them tons of money. Life would be much easier for agents if they had seven clients who were making enough to live on rather than having twenty clients who are scraping by. If the agent has a client that a publisher liked in the past, the agent is going to push for publishers to publish that client again.

An author with a traditionally published book is more likely to be writing at a level that meets publishers’ approval. Granted, we may look at their work and question why the publisher liked it, but whatever it is that publishers are looking for, they’ve got it. Assuming they can duplicate it in a few months when they could take a decade to produce it before, the author is more likely to get a second contract.

If the first book was a success, there is a strong possibility the second book will be a success also. The publisher may have seen it as a risk to offer the author a contract the first time, but if the publisher sees that they made a profit, even a small profit, on the first book they will be easy to convince to try to push for additional success with the same author.

The author has a better understanding of the publishing industry. It’s like traveling somewhere in a car. The first time you may need a map to find it. The second time you may be able to get there with little help from the map at all. With the first book, the author may be stumbling around trying to find a way to reach his goal while the second time he has an idea of what will work and what won’t.

But that second book contract isn’t guaranteed. Some topics don’t need a second book about them, so the author may have nothing more to say. The author may have had other people edit the book and their work is what made the book good, rather than the work of the author. The publisher may look at the book and decide that the author isn’t worth future risk. So while it is generally easier to get the second book published, it may not be so easy for all authors.