What Are The Odds Of Getting Published?

by Wendy Keller

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 them:

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 Question@KellerMedia.com

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.

Wendy Keller
Keller Media, Inc.
Literary Agency & Speakers Bureau
23852 West Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 701
Malibu, CA 90265 USA
310.857.6828 voice
310.857.6373 fax


Want to write a book? Go to Rita’s web site www.RitaEmmett.com and click on The Writer’s Room. Take a look at Rita's The Procrastinator's Guide To Authorship: Stop Putting Off Your Success. Find a free article about writing proposals in The Writer’s Room

Don’t procrastinate in going there now.

Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is Rita@RitaEmmett.com

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