Selling Your First Children's Novel: A Poll

At the end of 2009, I set up a poll at the Tenners about the journey to publication for some of this year's debut novelists.  Here are the questions and answers: 1.  What came first, agent or publisher offer?

  • Agent: 82%
  • Publisher: 18%

 

2.  How did you find your agent?

  • Slush pile query: 58%
  • Met at a conference: 14%
  • Referral: 11%
  • Query, with publishing offer in hand: 6%
  • I don't have an agent: 6%
  • Professional connections: 3%
  • Other: 2%

 

3. How many agents did you query before getting an offer:

  • 1-10: 54%
  • 11-20: 15%
  • 21-30: 10%
  • 31-40: 4%
  • 41+: 17%

 

4. Did you have multiple agent offers:

  • No: 58%
  • Yes, 1-3: 38%
  • Yes, 4+: 4%

 

5. From the time you/your agent began submission, how long did it take your book to sell?

  • Less than a month: 47%
  • 1-6 months: 36%
  • 6-12 months: 11%
  • Over 1 year: 6%

 

6. Did you have multiple publishing offers?

  • No: 51%
  • Yes, 1-3: 35%
  • Yes, 4+: 14%

 

7. Is yours a multi-book deal?

  • No: 47%
  • Yes, 2 books: 42%
  • Yes, 3+ books: 11%

 

8. How many books did you write (now stuffed in a drawer somewhere) before the one that sold?

  • None, this is my first: 18%
  • 1: 31%
  • 2: 26%
  • 3: 7%
  • 4: 11%
  • 5+: 7%

 

9. How many writing conferences did you attend prior to selling your book?

  • None: 29%
  • 1-5: 44%
  • 6-10: 24%
  • 11+: 3%

 

10. How long, including pre-sale edits, did it take you to write your debut novel?

  • Less than 1 year: 39%
  • 1-2 years: 24%
  • 2-3 years: 9%
  • 3-4 years: 13%
  • 4-5 years: 2%
  • 5+ years: 13%

 

11. Have you met your editor and/or agent?

  • I have met both of them: 31%
  • I've met my agent, but not editor: 13%
  • I've met my editor, but not agent: 11%
  • I've never met either of them: 45%

 

12. How old are you?

  • Under 20: 0%
  • 20-30: 25%
  • 31-40: 51%
  • 41-50: 22%
  • 51+: 2%

 

13. What is your work status (post-book sale)?

  • I write full-time, no other job: 29%
  • I have a part-time job: 15%
  • I have a full-time job: 25%
  • I am a stay-at-home parent: 31%

 

14. Which best describes your debut novel?

  • YA Contemporary: 35%
  • YA Paranormal: 22%
  • MG Contemporary: 15%
  • YA Fantasy: 11%
  • MG Fantasy: 7%
  • YA Historical: 3%
  • MG Historical: 3%
  • YA Sci-Fi: 3%
  • MG Sci-Fi: 0%
  • MG Paranormal: 0%

 

15. Prior to selling your debut novel, had you been published?

  • No: 47%
  • Yes, short fiction: 17%
  • Yes, "other" (only include work for which you were paid): 17%
  • Yes, non-fiction articles: 14%
  • Yes, non-fiction book: 5%
  • Yes, adult novel: 0%

 

16.  How long have you wanted to be a writer?

  • Less than 1 year: 2%
  • 1-5 years: 4%
  • 6-10 years: 7%
  • 10+ years: 16%
  • Or, my whole life and I'm so incredibly amazed and thankful that this is actually really, truly happening: 71%

 

For some of my thoughts and take-aways, visit the Tenners

Disclaimer: I am a writer, not a professional pollster or statistician.  I stink at math.  The 55 respondents don't include all Tenners and certainly not all debut novelists and not all 55 responded to every question.  Most did, but the 3 without agents didn't answer the agent questions, obvz.  You could probably draw a lot of conclusions from this info - some different than mine - including that this is a very small sample size and self-selecting since we're all kids' writers who joined the same online community.  I just thought this was interesting.  I'm kind of a geek like that.