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The Literary Lottery

abstract:Is publishing a book today a literary lottery? This week's issue of New York Magazine features an article on how publishers are betting big on first time authors and gambling on success—and authors' careers.


July 15, 2003
— "Any promising young nobody might be transformed into a very big somebody with the right promotion, and ironically, a big-enough advance could help serve as that promotion."


Once, writers served a kind of literary apprenticeship: publish the first novel and develop their voice and grow their book sales with each successive title. Now, the emphasis is on performing well—really well—right out of the gate. In this effort to create the next publishing phenomenon, publishers are betting more and more money, laying out six and seven figure advances for first-time novelists, writers with no track record at all.


What happens when the first book isn't a success? What happens if it is a success? (One-hit wonders are not exclusive to the music industry.) And where does this leave all the good writers working on their third or fourth books?


Read "The New Literary Lottery" in New York Magazine.



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