Today's issue is about that bane of
authorship: rejection. Rejection is always part of the sales cycle, but
many people are not prepared for the numbers of rejections they will
receive as they begin their publishing career. The facts below will
probably help you understand the odds. Then we'll talk about how to beat
1) Agencies like mine typically reject 99.5 of everything they see.
Out of close to 500 queries a month (electronic and surface mail) we
receive, we invite perhaps 50 proposals for review. Out of that fifty,
perhaps one or sometimes two is ready to be delivered to publishers.
2) Editors take projects from agents. There are about 1600 agents in
the USA, and only about 25% of us are actually actively selling books.
There are only about 20 editors tops for any particular subject in the
major new york houses - all totaled! These same 20 people receive
projects from hundreds of agents. Do the math and consider how many they
see in a year!
3) An average, overworked editor publishes a maximum of 24 books in a
year, thanks to budget and staff cuts. When I began 14 years ago, it was
an average of 12. They have little time for editorial development. That
job belongs to the agents and their staff now.
4) Good agents (in which group I humbly include myself) tend to sell
about 3 out of every 5 projects they represent.
5) According to reliable sources, we publish only about 65,000 books
a year. 2/3 of that group are text books, professional books and
fiction. That leaves approximately 12,000 books available for you to
become one of.
Like these odds? They are not in your favor, which is why becoming an
author has such panache. But it IS doable. My company does high level
book development coaching, where we actually teach you how the editors
think and how to write around the many pitfalls and obstacles. Knock on
wood, we have a 100% success ratio so far - that is, all the authors
I've coached so far have sold! (Which is pretty exciting to report!)
If you'd like a free consultation - 10-20 minutes - where you and I
will talk and determine if your concept even has a good chance of ending
up published, give me a call. Set up an appointment to discuss your
publishing future. You'll be glad you did when you hold a pristine
proposal in your hands, ready to be delivered to those precious 20+
editors. Call Julie at 310-456-5698 to set an appointment now.
******Ask the agent: In this section, I answer a question received
since the last issue from an author or newsletter subscriber. You are
welcome to send your questions to
March Issue Question: What do you think of e-publishing?
Answer: E-publishing, where you or some company electronically
publishes your book, is a growing trend. But like self-publishing,
unless you can create your own demand for the book and convert it to
sales, you will find it lacks credibility and does not profit you much.
According to new research, e-books fail at about 87%. That is, the cost
of listing them on a service is rarely exceeded by sales figures.
Especially true for fiction! One reason is that e-books are very, very
hard to market. The place for ebooks in this market is adjunct to a
paper-published book, which increases methods through which people can
purchase your information.
*******Jargon Word: This issue's jargon word is "Distribution". You
may well know this word, but not recognize its extreme importance to
your publishing future. Farmers rely on grocery stores as retailers at
the end of their distribution chain just like book publishers rely on
bookstores for their success. As an author, your goal is to sell your
work to a publisher who can offer you the best distribution for your
title. This is something your agent will know. Sometimes, an author will
find a small publisher or a niche publisher and try to get them to do
their book. If this happens, the challenge is often distribution. The
tiny presses cannot get books into the big chains most of the time,
because they don't create enough revenue to be taken seriously. The
niche publisher, let's say a publisher of business books who has
suddenly decided to go into publishing books on metaphysics, will not
have established vendor relationships. They will accidentally get their
new book on "Nurturing Your Soul" laughed at and not carried by
bookstores accustomed to seeing, "How To Write A Business Plan." While
it is completely possible to sell an unagented book to a small
publisher, chances are you will end up with more woe than dough.
*******A Quote To Remember: "The only happy author in the world is he
who is below the care of reputation." ----Washington Irving
Thanks for reading! We'd love you to use this for your writer's group
or writer's website. Please just provide attribution, and it would be
nice if you let us know you're using us - maybe there are ways we can
help one another. All content herein is the sole responsibility of Wendy
Keller Media, Inc.
Literary Agency & Speakers Bureau
23852 West Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 701
Malibu, CA 90265 USA