When No Track Record is Better than Some Track Record

I talk to dozens of authors who have written one book without the benefit of an agent who realize the error of their ways, and search out an agent for book number two.  That makes perfect sense. They tried doing everything themselves first time around, so they look for professional help for their next outing.  However, in the majority of these cases, Book 1 did not sell well, and might have even been an outright bomb.  That usually makes the next conversation with that author a difficult one.

But isn’t the mere experience of writing a book and getting it published something that editors like? 

The answer is an unequivocal no—if that first book bombed.


In this difficult sales environment—or any sales environment—you are only as good as your last book. That’s why it is better to have zero track record, a clean slate, than to have a poor track record. And it does not matter why the first book failed. Publishers and booksellers don’t care why a book failed, just that it did. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you put your best foot forward in Book 1, and not “experiment” with a marginal idea. Here is where a good literary agent can really help. An experienced business book editor has a pretty good idea of what kind of business book has a reasonable chance of success. So the moral of the story: get a literary agent as early in your book writing career as possible. If a book writing career is important to you, securing an agent may save you years of heartache down the line.


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