This week’s blog is going to be a short one because the answer is very simple. But we’ll get to that. First, I need to get on my soapbox.
Know what makes me mad and sad at the same time? It’s when I hear a new author asking about writing a query letter to an agent or a publisher. Why? Because I know that an author’s chances of getting an agent or publisher interested in his (or her) book are almost zero, and the author is wasting his time even trying. Many agents used to say that they typically rejected roughly 99% of all queries. For publishers, the percentages were similar, if not worse.
In other words, AT BEST, your chance of landing a traditional publishing contract is 1% of 1% is a 1 in 10,000 chance (if we’re being generous). In recent years, the total number of titles published runs around 200,000-300,000 or a bit more. I found one set of figures that claims about 50,000 were fiction for adults (as opposed to juvenile books, and not meaning “adult” novels), and these are not necessarily “new” novels. Plus, this includes books from ALL publishers, not just the big ones. Agents don’t deal with smaller publishers, so your chance of getting an offer from a larger publisher is even smaller. And even if you do, most of those published books will be “midlist” books, meaning the authors you won’t make squat from them. Add in that typical first-time advances for new authors from the major publishers is currently under (often well under) $10,000.
So, if you really want to go after a traditional publishing contract, have at it. You’re going to be disappointed with the results. I guarantee it.
This leads me to the main point of this week’s blog post: an encouraging article from Kris Rusch. READ IT or suffer the consequences!
Then read PG’s comments in “The Passive Voice” where he references this article and comments on it at the end.
I told you that the answer to the statement in the title of this week’s post is simple: The only way you’re going to get your book published and stand a chance of making money from it is to publish it yourself. Assuming it’s a good book to start with.
If you still believe that landing a traditional publisher will guarantee your book will appear in bookstores, I dug up a fact to counter that belief: “A book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in an average bookstore.”
Here’s the reference. Don’t be too discouraged by what you read in it because some of the article stresses non-fiction/business books.
Even so, never forget that with all the books being released by traditional and self-publishers, humans can only read so many books in a year. Just because they have more choices doesn’t mean they’re reading more. Your book has to work even harder to stand out to be discovered, no matter how it’s published.
Write a great book, self-publish it properly (good editing and a good cover), and cross your fingers. And don’t bother with agents and publishers. Life is too short to waste your time that way.
Next week I’m going to try to continue my blog on book cover design to incorporate some things I’ve learned recently. If I don’t get to that one, I’ll still give you a post worth reading.