A few months ago, my local paper ran an article about a group of writers in my area who get together to support one another and commiserate over their rejections. (It wasn’t the local RWA chapter, to which I belong.) Several people quoted in the story lamented over how impossible it is for a debut author to get published in New York these days. Agents and editors won’t even consider an unpublished writer’s work, let alone offer a contract for publication!
But is that really true? That the unpubbed, to quote Rodney Dangerfield, don’t get no respect?
I used to think so. I was pretty sure that getting an offer of agent representation or of publication were longshots akin to winning the lottery. Unlike the lottery, that didn’t stop me from trying, but I knew the odds were poor.
Yesterday, however, I realized that in the past year, I’ve seen a lot of my unpublished friends become either agented or sold or both. I mean, a significantly higher percentage than anyone would expect based upon the statistics we all hear all the time (agents reject 99% or more of all submissions that come to them, only one-tenth of one percent of books that come before a NY editor are published, etc.). In fact, these events have been occurring so often lately, it seems like a virtual epidemic.
I still think it’s DAMN difficult to get published. I know quite a few authors whose work I think is more than worthy of a six-figure contract who have been rejected repeatedly by agents and editors alike. And yet…it doesn’t seem to be to be quite the crapshoot it once did. Authors with lots of skill and talent and more than a little bit of good luck and timing can and do get published. Even if they haven’t got a previous publishing credit to their name.
Agents are still looking for new authors whose work they love to represent. Publishers are looking for new blood, new voices. And with diligence and perseverance, new authors do get published.
So, yay for the aspiring and unpubbed. Go forth and submit. And never abandon hope!
YOUR TURN: Do you feel encouraged when an unpublished author sells? Or do you think, “There goes another slot for a debut author; now I’ll never get published!”
P.S. A hearty congratulations to Avon FanLit winner and all-around sweetheart, Sara Lindsey, whose three-book deal with NAL/Signet was announced this week, thereby inspiring this post.