It’s easier to get a second book published once you have had your first book published, but does this apply to published non-fiction writers who then want to get a first novel published? Or would publishers treat you as a first-time author again?

The answer to this question is… yes.

Once you have a publisher who is interested in your work, it becomes easier to get another book published. Having said that, you will still need to supply the work for them to look over before they agree to give you a contract.

My publishing company signed an author with their first fiction book. Later, they asked if we would publish his memoir. Not just an ordinary memoir, but one that involved all the weird and wonderful interactions he had with his daughter. After looking over the rough work, we agreed that our Tumbleweed Books imprint would handle the publication.

If the author had approached us with the work prior to their first book being published, they would not have received a contract and we would not have published the book.

Working with a new author is stressful for any publisher. Think of it as a first date – you don’t know the person, don’t know what to expect, don’t know how they will react, and don’t know how much work will go into the relationship at the start. That is how a publisher thinks.

An exampled:

Out imprint signed an author based on the report from a test reader. They mentioned the manuscript needed a lot of editing. No problem, that’s what we do before releasing the work. After going through a few pages of the work it was found to have a good start to the story and the writing engaging enough to overcome the compesitional errors. We sent the contract over and it was signed. 

The first edites ended two days in, with a mountain of notes and logic errors found. These were sent to the author for rewrites and fixing. The instructions were – there’s an issue with the second character starting on page 30. See notes and address this retroactively. Carry through the character correction to the end of the writing.

The manuscript was then returned to the author for rewrites. One month later we got it back. The author failed to recreate the character correctly, causing more logic errors in the work. It was returned for rewrites once again, pointing out the issue. When the manuscript came back from the author a second time, the rewrites caused even more errors. At that point, we dropped the author and cancelled the contract.

This is a horror story that many publisher face, and a reason why it is hard for new authors to get contracts. We set the bar high, because we need to. No one wants to lose money on a book deal, and a publisher is the gatekeeper to their company.

What I’m saying is, if you are picked up by a publisher, take the time to listen to the editor. Carry out the instructions. Follow through with fixing your manuscript. And most important, if you don’t understand the editing request, ask questions. After your first book, it will be easier to have a second one published, even if it is not in the same genre.