Tuesday, 10 June 2008

You Don’t Have To Be Lucky To Get Published

Luck goes into it, but not much.

Most submissions are simply not publishable: they're badly written, have no market, have not been polished, are littered with spelling mistakes and typos, they're plagiaristic, they're libellous, or they're just plain boring.

Most submissions are sent to the wrong publishers: there’s no point sending a novel to a text-book publisher, or a children’s story book to a list which specialises in cookery books.

Most submissions don't follow guidelines: they’re printed out using single line spacing, or printed on both sides of each page.

Perhaps 5% of submissions avoid the above categories, and will be read, and considered, by whoever it is they're sent to. Which narrows the odds considerably. After that, it's down to how good a writer you are, and whether or not your work is considered publishable in today's market. There is some luck involved, but far less than it seems from the outside.

3 comments:

JJ Cooper said...

You've been speaking to my agent. We had this same conversation not long ago. I believe we create our own luck through hard work and determination.

JJ

Razib Ahmed said...

I agree with you. I have see frustrating days as a freelance writer and now, I am enjoying happy days as a blogger. I have realized one thing. Working hard is very important in life but being patient is perhaps a bit more important.
You have a nice blog which is useful for anyone who wants to be a writer. I hope to come back as often as I can.

Sally Z said...

We're only human. Whenever the press report an unknown writer seeming to spring fully-formed from the slush-pile with an immediate best-seller, film-rights etc etc, we moan 'lucky so and so.'

What they don't tell you is all the hard slog that went before that success. Delve further and it's always there - the rejections, the disappointments, the reams of words that never got into print - only it's not the stuff that headlines are made of.

As someone once replied, having been told he was damned lucky to be so rich and successful - "True but I find that the harder I work the luckier I get."