Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

It’s an Epidemic!

X-posted from the Manuscript Mavens blog

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 Agents and editors won’t even consider an unpublished writer’s work, let alone offer a contract for publication!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Yesterday, however, I realized that in the past year, I’ve seen a lot of my unpublished friends become either agented or sold or both.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YOUR TURN: Do you feel encouraged when an unpublished author sells?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.


  • Amie Stuart June 27, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Granted I’ve sold but this angst doesn’t just go away after you sell. That said, it’s the BIG deals that get to me (and of course my frame of mind does come into play)

  • skirbo June 27, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I don’t feel that publishing is impossible if you are talented and know who to submit to and when. However, as happy as I am for my friends that are being bought, it sometimes depresses me, even though my problem is that I haven’t actually finished anything to sell.

    Writing, like any other art form, is so connected to the creator’s self esteem that it’s hard to acccept when someone didn’t like it. Especially for us overly sensitive folks. I’m sure I’ll get rejections and I’m sure that I’ll cry about them. A lot. Hopefully I won’t give up and will eventually get published. So long as I can actually finish what I’m working on. Thpt.



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