The Odds Are Better Than You Think
In my efforts to familiarize myself with the world of writing, blogging, editing, agents and the overall journey of becoming a published author, I have discovered an often times overwhelming amount of negative feedback from other would be authors blogging that we have little or no chance of ever getting our work looked at by an agent, let alone published. They talk about the difficulty of finding a credible editor, or the disappointment of never receiving even one response from the hundreds of query letters sent in search of an agent. Often they’ve quote an article or blog by another overlooked, aspiring author and they leave me with the idea that the Mountain of Recognition is just too steep for the average climber and the odds of ever making it to the top too great to even try.
But being the type-A persistent individual that I am I decided to dig deeper until I had exhausted all avenues of information before making any sort of conclusive decision on whether to press on in my pursuit to perfect my writing skills or pack it in and go back to the seemingly more realistic, yet personally un-fulfilling nine to five grind. The results were far more encouraging than I originally read to believe.
It is estimated that a single publisher can receive up to 8,000 manuscripts in one year and of those only 1,500 will actually be read. Out of that 1,500 another 1,300 will go into the ‘mercy delete’ pile, which leaves 200 novels or literary works that are actually considered and of that number only 1 or 2 will actually make it to the printing press. Over all it is estimated that the odds of being published are 1% – 2%. Yet as disappointing as that may sound, in reality the truth is that of the thousands of manuscripts being submitted on a yearly basis, very few are actually good enough to view, let alone spend the money on to print.
As I read through article after article of writing advice, ranging anywhere from published authors to agents to publishers, I discovered a continuity of truth that ran through almost every blog, article or book; eventually good writer’s get published, bad ones don’t. Not exactly rocket science is it? And besides debunking some of the cosmic myths surrounding why new writer’s might find it so difficult to make it past second base (query pitches to potential agents) they were kind enough to tell the truth and list some of the reasons why we, as new authors, might not get the attention we think we deserve.
Some of the reasons mentioned that might be why we continually find ourselves out of the running were; poorly written openings, wavering point of view, boring or underdeveloped character’s or inconsistency in the flow of the story. Maybe we didn’t give enough diligence to the re-writing process and our work needs tightening up or the grammar is bad and it’s going to take more than just spell check to fix it. Or it might be that we failed to appreciate the need to make sure our manuscript was in the best possible condition and it was simply not ready to send off to an agent or publisher yet. And speaking of manuscripts, were we careful to follow the required formatting specified by whatever agent or publisher we’ve asked to take the time to read it?
My conclusion from this little foray into my periodic need to reaffirm why I choose to get up every morning and go through the often difficult process of learning how to take the story in my mind and present it to an audience I have yet to establish in a way that is both intelligent as well as entertaining, is this; it’s going to take a lot of persistence, diminishing ego, Starbucks, good editing and tenacious friendships if I really want to become an established author.
“ Eventually the bad stuff I’m writing turns into better stuff. Other times, I’ve just walked away from what I was working on, and figured I’d have a better perspective when I came back to it. Margaret Haddix
From the laptop of an uncensored writer,