I ran across this little gem of an article by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés today which should lift your spirits some, if you’re among those who hope to be published some day. From The Moderate Voice:
There’s another secret many writers wont tell: It has to do with the odds of being published by a mainstream press or a small publishing press. They are actually quite good. Yes, luck is needed in some small part. Good writing that’s compelling to someone somewhere (an audience, a demographic, a genre) is of the essence. Being able to put one sentence behind another is needed. Having a sharp beginning, an unsagging middle and a solid ending are mostly valued, with the exception of a few of my great loves, such as James Joyce, Ferlinghetti (who is 90 yaers old this year), Corso and e.e.
Dr. Estés suggests that the old advice we’ve all come to accept about how hard it is to get published is a myth perpetrated by those who would seek to deter others from making the attempt, thereby diminishing the competition and increasing their own odds, or as she puts it “a re-direct tactic.”
I read through her list of manuscripts that had been sold the day she wrote her article, and noted a couple of them being published by ‘somebody’s’: i.e., they are either previously published or have a recognizable name (Harry Turtledove). The rest were unknown to me, although that’s probably not much of an indicator.
All that aside, Estés rightly points out that most manuscripts never sell because they are never finished, or never submitted. She herself faced rejection 42 times before finally selling a manuscript to the same publishing house that had previously rejected it twice. She keeps a note taped to her desk for encouragement that I believe I will adopt as my own mantra:
Every day do your work with full intent, full fervor, fullest spirit, hold nothing back. If you will do your work this way every day with all your heart, you will succeed: There is so little competition.