I was wondering if it was better to be a debut author with a clean slate than someone who has published a book with a small publisher (Five Star, for example). I'm querying agents and wondering whether I should include the bit about my Five Star mystery novel (even though the book I'm querying is YA) or if I should leave it off the bio completely. In conversation once, an agent told me publishers would rather have a debut author than someone published with a small press. The book is under a pseudonym, so I suppose I could leave it off my bio. What do you think? Honestly.This is suddenly casting me back to high school and those "purity" tests. I wouldn't knock abstinence for teenagers, ever, but there's something just screwed up about the way our culture idealizes ignorance and inexperience.
It is better to be entirely honest with your agent and editor than not. Your editor may decide that your adult novel under a pseudonym is not information that Sales and Marketing needs, but that needs to be her call.
Yes, sometimes there's a cool cache to the phrase "debut novelist", but most editors also realize that anyone's first novel is not their best work.
The bottom line is: it doesn't matter. You have to be who you are. If the current chic was in writers who have buck teeth or who escaped from religious cults or who loathe pecans, it wouldn't matter. Honesty and integrity are always in style.