Debut novel

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A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. Debut novel_sentence_0

Debut novels are often the author's first opportunity to make an impact on the publishing industry, and thus the success or failure of a debut novel can affect the ability of the author to publish in the future. Debut novel_sentence_1

First-time novelists without a previous published reputation, such as publication in nonfiction, magazines, or literary journals, typically struggle to find a publisher. Debut novel_sentence_2

Sometimes new novelists will self-publish their debut novels, because publishing houses will not risk the capital needed to market books by an unknown author to the public. Debut novel_sentence_3

Most publishers purchase rights to novels, especially debut novels, through literary agents, who screen client work before sending it to publishers. Debut novel_sentence_4

These hurdles to publishing reflect both publishers' limits in resources for reviewing and publishing unknown works, and that readers typically buy more books by established authors with a reputation than first-time writers. Debut novel_sentence_5

For this reason, literary communities have created awards that help acknowledge exceptional debut novels. Debut novel_sentence_6

Publishing and recognition Debut novel_section_0

In contemporary British and American publishing markets, most authors receive only a small monetary advance before publication of their debut novel; in the rare exceptions when a large print run and high volume of sales are anticipated, the advance can be larger. Debut novel_sentence_7

For an example of an unusually high advance: in 2013, the highly anticipated City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg captured the attention of ten publishers who started a bidding war that ended with Knopf buying the rights to the book for 2 million dollars. Debut novel_sentence_8

The book's film production rights were purchased soon after by producer Scott Rudin. Debut novel_sentence_9

For similar reasons that advances are frequently not very large—novels frequently don't sell well until the author gains a literary reputation. Debut novel_sentence_10

There are exceptions, however; YouTuber Zoella published her debut novel Girl Online in November 2014, and the book sold 78,109 copies in Britain in its first week. Debut novel_sentence_11

The novel saw huge sales because she already had an established audience, and publishers were willing to run a large print run. Debut novel_sentence_12

By comparison, bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey sold 14,814 copies in its first week, or later popular novels, like Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, only receive small initial print runs. Debut novel_sentence_13

Debut novels that do well will be reprinted as sales increase due to word of mouth popularity of the novels—publishers don't often run large marketing campaigns for debut novelists. Debut novel_sentence_14

There are numerous literary prizes for debut novels often associated with genre or nationality. Debut novel_sentence_15

These prizes are in recognition of the difficulties faced by debut novelists and bring attention to deserving works and authors. Debut novel_sentence_16

Some of the more prestigious awards around the world include the American Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the French Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, the British Guardian First Book Award, the German Aspekte-Literaturpreis and the Japanese Noma Literary Prize. Debut novel_sentence_17

The New York Times commentator Leslie Jamison described the big, and often very public, "to do" about debut novels and novelists created by these book awards, as associated with the excitement of finding authors and writers without established legacies. Debut novel_sentence_18

In the same piece for the Times, Ayana Mathis describes the debut novel as a "a piece of the writer’s soul in a way that subsequent books can’t ever be", because the novel is necessarily a work of passion and a product of all of their life before that moment. Debut novel_sentence_19

Literary characteristics Debut novel_section_1

Often an author's first novel will not be as complex stylistically or thematically as subsequent works and often will not feature the author's typical literary characteristics. Debut novel_sentence_20

Huffington Post's Dave Astor attributes these to two forces: first that authors are still learning their own unique style and audiences are more willing to read works from unknown authors if they resemble more conventional styles of literature. Debut novel_sentence_21

As examples, Astor points to J.R.R. Debut novel_sentence_22

Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937), Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman (1969) and Charles Dickens' The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837), all of which lack the complexity or stylistic characteristics which audiences praise in the authors' later work. Debut novel_sentence_23

Sometimes, instead of writing novels to begin their career, some authors will start with short stories, which can be easier to publish and allow authors to get started in writing fiction. Debut novel_sentence_24

Etymology Debut novel_section_2

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest attested usage of "first novel" is from 1876. Debut novel_sentence_25

However, the term is much older, with instances going back to at least 1800. Debut novel_sentence_26

The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't have an entry for "debut novel." Debut novel_sentence_27

The earliest usage of "debut novel" in the Google Books database is 1930 (as of 2011). Debut novel_sentence_28

The Google Books Ngram Viewer shows it becoming more widely used after about 1980, gaining in popularity since. Debut novel_sentence_29


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debut novel.