What chance do I have of getting published?

January 19, 2010

You may think you have little chance of getting published. After all, the statistic on unsolicited manuscripts in Australia, a country of 20 million people (not counting boat people-who in my books are most welcome) is 1 in 5,000. In the USA, that would expand to 1 in 50,000. So, the question becomes, are you capable of becoming noticed in a crowd of unsolicited information?

Here are a three tips to getting noticed:

1. Do your category homework

Books are like cars. Are you a people mover (popular fiction), family wagon (childrens books) or painted bus (popular self help)?
Without category recognition, you’re goneski. Get into a mould and do your creative work within those parameters.

2. Be cool

When you query, propose or offer a manuscript, be super-easy to deal with. The person judging your chances is likely to be a very busy woman who had to crash through a glass cieling just for the opportunity to deal with your dream. Be respectful, expect nothing and pray. If in doubt, use a phone call no more often than fortnightly, 60 seconds a piece. Be you, be brief, be teachable.

3. Work your platform

Who will buy the first 3000 copies? If you can’t answer that question with confidence you are not ready to be published. You need to reach your audience with your value proposition by your own industry and persistence before you get published. Failing that, you are relying on talent and luck, which although well documented as a recipe for success, has a lower statistic on breakthrough deals.

Photo by gruntzooki

What’s your book idea? Comment here and I’ll reply.

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11 Responses to “What chance do I have of getting published?”

  1. pprmint777 Says:

    Absolutely right. It takes awhile after sending out the query letters to hear from agents and editors who are swamped under thousands of letters just like yours. The best things to do with the time are to start another book and keep up with your networking. Building a platform should begin long before you send out a letter, but if you haven’t started yet, now’s the time–get moving!!!


  2. And then if your book idea is poetry, the landscape changes somewhat, yes?

    • Ben Dawe Says:

      Hi Joannie – yes poetry is rarely commercial these days. The few poets I can think of under 70 who can work this space for a living are very active in public performance,
      often involving school visits. Thanks for your comment and keep writing what you have in you to write.

  3. James Hansen Says:

    I’m in the middle of a novel about a friar, in 12th century spain, who has a knack for helping the undead. Things change for him when a dark past, which led him to the penitant life he lives, comes back to haunt him.

    I would love your thoughts, good or bad.

    Thanks!

    James

    • Ben Dawe Says:

      Hi James
      Sounds interesting as a premise and speculative fiction certainly has traction – so at least you’ve jumped through a couple of hoops. A spooky monk story that comes to mind is The Name of The Rose (Eco, I think). You might want to check it out – its an historical thriller.
      All the best
      Ben

  4. cathisakson Says:

    Hi Ben,
    Research and being professional are great pieces of advice.
    I recently started interviewing emerging authors about how they got published. I’ve been fairly surprised to discover that most of the authors I’ve spoken to got their break by networking with publishers.
    So, just like other businesses, networking and developing good relationships works in the book publishing industry too!
    Of course, you need to be able to write…
    Cheers, Cathryn

  5. Ben Dawe Says:

    Hi Cathryn
    Thanks for your comment.
    I agree the who-you-know principle certainly operates in publishing circles as much as anywhere else.
    Recommendation of a potential author by an existing author is not an unusual way for writers to get
    read by a Publisher. Writers can be a little shy. My advice is if you don’t ask an influential person for their advice or feedback, you don’t get a recommendation.
    best
    Ben


  6. Sound advice, well thought and and crafted: relevant here in the UK too.

  7. kathy houden Says:

    Its about finding the right publisher and being smart


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