1. Vanlande
    Offline

    Vanlande Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Florida, USA

    What are the odds?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Vanlande, Jul 22, 2012.

    Okay, so I've been looking through the forums for a day or two and I still haven't really found a cut-and-dry answer to my question, though there might not be one...

    What are the odds of my novel being published?

    I understand that the variables involved make it a very difficult question to answer. What I'm hoping to do is get a broad estimate on what my chances are of ever having a manuscript put in paperback. Not, "bestseller" status or anything like that.

    Basically, are my odds comparable to becoming; An A list actor, a pro athlete, A singer with a record deal, A CEO, or a lottery jackpot winner. Or is my shot better than that? Maybe like the district manager of a hotel chain, or 4 of 6 numbers in the lotto?

    If my query is absurd, feel free to ridicule me. I'm a first-timer, and have no knowledge of the publishing industry game, so that's why I'm here. Appreciate the advice guys.

    Ryan
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    It's hard, if not impossible, to say. Like you said, it depends on a large number of factors. Sadly, skill alone doesn't guarantee publication. Your idea has to be marketable (or, at the very least, you have to make sure you have an audience willing to buy your book). Getting a good agent also helps, since he/she has contacts that can make the publication process easier.

    I'm being a bit optimistic here, but if you have a marketable idea, an established audience, and your novel is well-written, then I'd say your chances are fairly good.

    Publishing a novel is hard, but not impossible. If it makes you feel any better, I will add that your chances of getting a novel published are better than winning the lottery jackpot.

    I also realized that self-publishing fulfills your requirement of seeing your manuscript as a paperback book, though I'm guessing you meant traditional publishing in your post.
     
  3. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    for an unknown new writer's first novel, they're slim, to none... sorry, but that's a basic fact of life in the writing world...
     
  4. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I would say they are greater than becoming the next Brad Pitt, Derek Jeter, or powerball winner. It's hard to really give you meaningful odds, because there are so many different factors. There is a lot of luck involved, but it also takes work. But there are first time novelists published all the time, so if it is really your number one goal, work at it and there's a chance you'll get there.

    You have to keep in mind, though, that being a published author is not the end-all be-all. The real longshot is being able to make a living as a novel writer. Becoming John Grisham is not easy. The vast majority of money made goes to a handful of writers. Most published authors, even moderately successful ones, still have to have another job in addition to being a novelist. Many of them are able to do this through jobs that are related to writing (i.e. teaching writing classes, editing, writing columns or book reviews, etc.)

    But if your goal is just a published novel, there's a chance that you can do it, given enough work, talent and luck. Network with other writers, attend classes and writing seminars, interact on online forums, read writing publications, review publishing and writing websites, enter writing contests. As I said, I can't give you odds or a guarantee, but if it's what you really want, and you really work hard at it, you do have a shot.
     
  5. bsbvermont
    Offline

    bsbvermont Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    1
    Chin up, keep working and don't quit your day job...yet. I am also as of yet unpublished. But it has been suggested that maybe not trying to tame the whale first is a good approach. Try to get some short stories or other credentials first is useful advice. That said, if the novel is finished and polished, keep working on getting it published. Query agents, go to conferences, keep writing and network as much as you can. You never know...your neighbor might have a sister who works at a huge publishing house!
     
  6. Vanlande
    Offline

    Vanlande Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    Thanks everyone,
    I have a better understanding now of what I'm up against. I'm not disheartened though, I had assumed it would be difficult. I never expected novel writing to be my bread and butter either. So, I won't be quitting my day job, and I won't be giving up, either. My plans are to attempt writing for some websites, maybe try to get a short story or two in print, and become more familiar with the layout before I attempt having a full 90k word novel published. It's a long road, but I'd be fooling myself if I said this would be easy.
    Thanks again,

    Ryan
     
  7. Egor
    Offline

    Egor Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New Orleans Area
    I believe the following, and I will until the day I die: A good story written by a clever writer with good editing and a good cover design will eventually rise to the top, and it will take its author with it. It doesn't matter if you self-publish or attempt to get an agent. Eventually, it will rise to the top.

    The publishing landscape has changed. For an unknown, I personally believe it is better to be prolific, self-publish (with good editing and cover design), and build your audience. You will have to build your audience anyway--no big sixer is going to do it for you. If you self-publish a novel once a year, if it is always a good story, and you're a clever writer, and your books are well-edited and have good cover design, you will eventually rise to the top. Then you can sell out your publishing company (or your titles) to a big six.

    The problem is that most wannabe writers (of which I am proud to say I am one), cannot write very well. They just don't have a unique insight into things; they follow the herd and write stories that have already been worn out; they self-publish unedited garbage and are forever branded as slush-pile bums. Hopefully, my first novel has not made me one of those.

    The bottom line is this: a good novel will find its way to the top, and if you want to be a good writer, and you want that more than you want to be an author, you will succeed. But as with most things that one gets good at, there is pain and sacrifice along the road to getting there.

    I wish you the best of luck, Vanlande.

    Ed
     
  8. Morkonan
    Offline

    Morkonan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    7
    How good is it?

    Does it cater to current trends or fads?

    How good is it?

    Does the editor need something to send to the presses and has nothing but round-file material?

    How good is it?

    Have you had any previous recognition, publication, awards or cites?

    How good is it?

    Did someone recommend you to the editor, write an introduction, make a phone-call to someone's boss, bribe the publisher or hold a gun to the editor's head?

    How good is it?


    See where I'm going? :)

    You could have a good novel. But, not every good novel gets published. Not every bad novel gets refused, either. Just realize that the best way you can maximize your chances of being published are to write a good novel.
     
  9. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    The better the story and how well-written it is, the better the chances. Even so, they're long.

    But, if you don't complete any novels, and get them in the best shape you can, and then target and send them out there in hopes of finding a publisher, your chances for success are an absolute zero.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The odds are worse if you give up. They plummet immediately to zero.
     
  11. ck1221
    Offline

    ck1221 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2012
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is by far the best advice yet, and they were all good advice.
     
  12. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    I have no idea how representative his numbers are, but this quote is often seen:
    "A typical agent in New York gets 400 query letters a month. Of those, they might ask to read 3-4 manuscripts, and of those, they might ask to represent one. The odds are tough, but not impossible ... "
    from Nicholas Sparks at
    http://www.nicholassparks.com/for-writers/experience-agent
     
  13. Dean Blake
    Offline

    Dean Blake Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    Interesting thread. Like with all the greatest writers, I guess one really has to keep pushing to get work published, even if it seems dishearteningly impossible.
     
  14. Crystal Parney
    Offline

    Crystal Parney Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Michigan
    Making the attempt to get published is so hard, but like everyone states, don't give up. For my first novel I think I sent out 30 queries in attempt to bait an agent. It's like you can't get published without an agent and agents only want published author (I'm totally generalizing here). I never found an agent, but I did find a publisher for my first novel, Beyond Gavia.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    some small, niche presses will take on unagented novels, as i'm assuming happened in crystal's case... so, if yours is in a 'niche genre' it's well worth a try to query the indies that handle that genre, van...
     
  16. moscowwoah
    Offline

    moscowwoah Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2012
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    www.tylerbigney.com
    If you're set on getting published with a big publisher, and a big advance, the odds are small. If you write well, then those odds go up. If you write well, and have a good story, then the odds go up again.

    Try submitting to some magazines - agents, and publishers are more apt to look at your stuff if they see you've been published in some literary magazines - depending on what kind of fiction you write.

    Don't give up. Ever.
     

Share This Page