I'm very encouraged by this blog entry by Alan Rinzler who interviewed an editor at Algonquin about why a few first-time novelists had landed large advances recently--citing a $600,000 and two six-figure advances for untested authors.
He debated the topic with Algonquin Books and Workman Publishers editor-at-large Jay Schaefer. When asked why these first time advances had went so high, Schaefer theorized: "A new author with a clean slate has no baggage to overcome."
However, the editor noted that Algonquin had been "selective" with new authors. Schaefer blamed a popular television show for creating myths about becoming a writer. Here's more from the post: "We've declined a lot of well crafted but empty stuff. You know, I think too many writers have been influenced by American Idol. They want to leap out of the chute, and win the literary lottery without working that hard."
To read the whole interview go to: