Track Record is Everything
Recently an author with whom I had worked congratulated me on getting him published even though he had never been published before. He was writing to me because he was ready to write his next (second) book. “It should be much easier to get me published now,” the author said, ” I mean, I had no track record before.”
What this author missed is the reality and unforgiving nature of the business book market. One failure, and the book buyers from various national chains—such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, etc.—will decrease their order for your next book. Once again, it is not rocket science. Everyone loves winners and few people want to be associated with losers (not that you are a loser if you wrote a book that did not sell, but you get the idea). Unless the publisher can convince the buyer that the previous failure was a fluke or due to something out of the ordinary, the distribution of your next book will be limited.
In other words, it is better to have NO track record than a losing one, because your poor track record will follow you and be used against you, especially since there never has been more accurate ways to measure the actual bookstore and online sales of a book (through the bookstore’s own records and a service that started in 2001—Nielsen Bookscan).
So if you are a first time author, lead with your best idea for your first book. If you are a proven author whose last book sold well, congratulations. However, that is no time to sit on yor laurels. Because in the publishing business you are only as good as your last book.