Quite a while ago, I read a blog post about debut fiction. The blogger had been at a conference where some panelists told hopeful authors, “We can’t sell you as debut authors if no one is buying debut fiction. If you want to get published, do your part and buy some books written by people like you.”
Why Take a Chance on a New Author?
I’m like most people—if I’m browsing at a bookstore, I tend to gravitate towards the books whose authors names I recognize. Especially if I’m in a huge store like Chapters where I hardly know where to start looking. It’s safest to grab a book by an author I’ve read and loved than to take a chance on someone I’ve never heard of before.
Yet as I thought about that, I also thought about all the debut books I’ve read lately—and really liked. Probably top of my list is Bonnie Grove’s Talking to the Dead, an amazing debut novel about a young woman working through the grief of losing her husband. Susan Young di Biagi’s debut novel Cibou also jumps to mind as an excellent work of historical fiction by a new author. I’ll definitely be looking for more work by these authors.
As a reader, it’s also fun to watch an author “grow up.” For example, I was following Miralee Ferrell’s blog when she released her first novel, The Other Daughter. Since then, I’ve watched Miralee write a sequel and then branch out into historical fiction and young adult novels. I feel as if I’ve gone on this journey with her, cheering her along the way to success as an author, because I read her first book.
While there are a few amazing writers whose first novel was an instant success, many writers grow into their craft. Not every debut novel is perfect in terms of plot or characterization or even spelling. Even if a young author makes a few mistakes in his or her first book, there’s still much to enjoy about debut authors—and the next book is sure to be better.
Debut Fiction I’ve Read and Reviewed:
- The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio
- Miss Fortune by Sara Mills (an Alberta author)
- Running Toward Home by Betty Jane Hegerat (another Alberta author)
- The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell
- One Smooth Stone by Marcia Laycock (another Alberta author)
- Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington (a former homeschool student)
- Dance, Gladys, Dance by Cassie Stocks
- The Lion Cubs by Chrissy M. Dennis (a Saskatchewan author)
- Come Sunday by Isla Morley
That list surprises even me—I didn’t realize I’d read quite so many books by new authors. Some of those books (Cibou and Miss Fortune) I read because of recommendations from a friend. Others I read because I knew or met the authors (Running Toward Home and One Smooth Stone). And some I was simply able to read through being a book review blogger (Dance, Gladys, Dance and Come Sunday). Either way, I’ve really enjoyed all of them.
Do you pick up debut fiction? What work of debut fiction have you read and enjoyed recently?
Steve – I’ve heard of Gilead but haven’t read it yet. Some books do require “ruminating.” You’re right about Bonnie and the laughing and crying. It’s good. 🙂
I am currently reading Miss Fortune by Sara Mills. I’ll let you know what I think of it. I just finished Gilead which is more literary than my normal. I enjoyed it but I have to let it ruminate a bit.
Talking to the Dead is one of the few books I reread, and it ain’t just ’cause I know Bonnie. She makes me laugh; she makes me cry.