A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. 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. First-time novelists without a previous published reputation, such as publication in nonfiction, magazines, or literary journals, typically struggle to find a publisher.
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. Most publishers purchase rights to novels, especially debut novels, through literary agents, who screen client work before sending it to publishers. 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. For this reason, literary communities have created awards that help acknowledge exceptional debut novels.
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