Defying the Odds

This pretty purple flower has defied the odds (and lawnmower) by sprouting up in the middle of our lawn.
This pretty purple flower has defied the odds (and lawnmower) by sprouting up in the middle of our lawn.

The road to getting published is a long twisty one, filled with water hazards, moving staircases, tiger traps, dead ends, and steep drops into a bottomless abyss. Some days it can feel like the top of Mount Published is an unreachable goal, something out of a fairy tale.

I mean, let’s face it, the odds are stacked against us. How many query letters do agents receive in a week? How many unsolicited (or even solicited) manuscripts does an editor get in a month? And how many of those go on to acquisitions and actually end up as books? I don’t have exact numbers (and I’m sure those numbers vary by agent and editor) but I can tell you, the percentage is small.

But you know what? Those odds are not even.

Ask any agent how many queries they get in a week for genres/age groups they don’t represent. Or how many are riddled with clichés, overused tropes, or even (gasp!) ridiculous amounts of spelling and grammatical errors.

Every time you attend a conference or workshop, every time you research an agent, or work with a critique partner(s), or read other books like the one you’re writing, or even just run a proper spell check, you help increase your odds.

I won’t lie. The odds of getting the first book you wrote published are still low. But if you don’t put in the effort – or if you give up altogether – the odds will definitely be against you. If you want the odds to be stacked in your favour, you’re going to have to do some heavy lifting.

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