Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Regressing the Novel Sales

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This is part five (part one, two, three, four) of my further analysis of results from Jim C. Hines' author survey of first novel sales. Today, I'm going to look at the "networking" variables that Jim collected - knowing agents or publishers, being in a writing group, and attending cons and workshops.

Networking - Length of Writing Time

Executive Summary: Attending conventions was the only significant variable that lessened the number of years writing before selling the first novel. Several other factors raised the number of years writing - but we don't know which happened first, so cannot show causation.

As I mentioned before, "number of rejections" cannot be used here because respondents indicated that they did not measure the same thing consistently. (Mentioned in part one. [LINK]) What I'm using instead is "How many years had you been writing before you made your first professional novel sale?". It's an imperfect substitute, as we're about to see.

OUTPUT016.2% of the variance in the number of years writing before first novel sale can be explained by these "networking" factors; that sounds big, but remember that it's variation, not reduction. The residual graph looks okay (over there on the right), but not good>. For someone who had not written another book, not sold any short fiction, not attended conventions, writer's groups, gotten a degree in English (of any kind), attended workshops, or knew editors or agents, it was 10.36 years from when they started writing until their first professional novel was sold. This was significantly altered by five variables:
  • Attending conventions reduced the number of years writing before first novel sale by 2.5, ceteris paribus.
  • Selling the first novel without an agent increased the number of years writing before first novel sale by 3.3, ceteris paribus.
  • Attending week-long workshops increased the number of years writing before first novel sale
    by 3.9, ceteris paribus.
  • Attending more than week-long workshops increased the number of years writing before first novel sale by 4.7, ceteris paribus.
  • Being introduced to a publisher by a mutual friend increased the number of years writing before first novel sale by 4.6, ceteris paribus.
I am strongly tempted to say that the first two are "real" - that is, that attending conventions makes it easier to sell your first novel (by talking to other authors/publishers and so on - if nothing else, cons always get me more enthused about writing) and that trying to sell your first novel without an agent will be somewhat harder. The other relationships - workshops and being introduced to a publisher - are significant, but I don't believe they're causative. Week long (and longer) workshops are not for the casual author - they're a significant investment of time and money. I suspect that relationship is because those authors had been doing it for a while and wanted to (or needed to) hone thier craft further. (Or in simple terms: I do not believe that going to a long workshop makes it harder to sell your first novel; I think you may not realize that you need to go to one until you've been writing for a while.) I don't know what to make of "being introduced to a publisher", though.
(here's hoping the table doesn't break the layout Note: the Collinearity Statistics are cut off on my monitor, so probably on yours as well. They're all less than 3.)





Coefficients(a)
Model

Unstandardized Coefficients
Standardized Coefficients
t Sig. Collinearity Statistics

B

Std. Error

Beta

Tolerance

VIF
1 (Constant) 10.355 1.074

9.639 .000



Which of the following had you done before
making your first novel sale?_Attended conventions
-2.500 1.258 -.148 -1.987 .048 .656 1.525
Which of the following had you done before
making your first novel sale?_Attended a week-long writing workshop
3.862 1.633 .167 2.365 .019 .738 1.355
Which of the following had you done before
making your first novel sale?_Attended a longer ( > 1 week)
writing workshop
4.704 1.682 .176 2.798 .006 .920 1.087
What connections did you have, if any, that
helped you find your publisher?_Introduced/referred by a mutual friend
4.628 1.756 .177 2.636 .009 .817 1.224
What connections did you have, if any, that
helped you find your agent?_I sold my book without an agent
3.286 1.278 .174 2.571 .011 .799 1.252
a Dependent Variable: How many years had you
been writing before you made your first professional novel sale?

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