‘The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.’
I never really understood that quote completely, until I read this article, “How do new writers get published?” from Joe Quirk on SFGate. It’s an interesting article in the form of an e-mail exchange between him and a first-time novelist. Here are a couple of sobering thoughts:
I own 375 rejection letters. My first novel published was my fifth novel written. Agents are inundated with dozens of queries, packages, manuscripts and threat letters every day. If you send out 20 queries, and get 20 rejections, it means 1 or 2 people even read it.
So getting rejections is almost meaningless, taken in that context. It really has no bearing on the quality of the writing, or the marketability of the material if no one is even bothering to read your query.
Mr. Quirk seems to be a on roll lately, advocating self-publishing, or POD, over traditional publishing houses. The royalties (if your book sells) are substantially higher, and getting that massive advance that most writers dream of could actually be a bad thing. If your book sales don’t make back that money, he says this will kill your chances of getting your second book published. From a financial standpoint, I can see that this makes some kind of sense. If you want to read more of his thoughts on this, click here to read Joe’s article, “Authors – Just say “No!” to your advance.”
We all know there’s a huge personnel turnover in publishing. That’s why writers are always told to research the markets before submitting, check the current masthead of a magazine for the editors names (because the ones who were there six months ago in the last issue you bought are quite possibly not there now). And so resubmitting to a market you submitted a story to a year ago seems perfectly reasonable. Odds are whoever rejected your story then is no longer employed there now.
By the way, agents who rejected you a year ago won’t remember you this year. Many editors who rejected you two years ago don’t work there any more– that’s why the Writer’s Marketplace has to be updated every year– so it’s time to send to them again.
Anyway, if I quote much more from the blog posts I’ll probably get in trouble, but do read them. At least it’ll help you understand Steinbeck’s statement a little better.
And persist, persist, persist!