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.