Guess What? Getting Your Words in Print is Hard

I came upon this interesting blog post in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards discussion forums. It brings up a very interesting point. So Why the Heck Am I Not Published Yet?

Well, there are some very good reasons. Timing is one. Your work has to get the right interest from the right person who has the right authority to push the big red PUBLISH button. Finding that right person amounts to finding the literal needle in a haystack. As writers, we can try the traditional publishing route. This means writing, rewriting, getting feedback, finding an editor, sending out queries, collecting rejections, and getting a person to read your manuscript. The hurdle is is finding that one right person; the one who says, “Hey This is Pretty Good and It’s Sellable.” It’s a hard combination to make, like a double Lindy gainer with a twist.

The second reason is one of risk. The rest of the industry is completely against you. Reading the numbers generated by the blogger’s analysis of the microcosm of submissions versus winners of the Amazon contest, you can see that winning a lottery jackpot comes a close second. There is little to no room for newcomers in this already tightly-compacted market. How often do you see publishers releasing an author’s fourth or fifth book or twentieth book and you haven’t gotten one out the door yet? It’s a matter of risk. A published author has traction and a track record. Someone who has not been published is a gamble. It’s money down a hole.

The third reason is one of choices. Following the traditional route of publishing, you can clearly see that there are gatekeepers along every step of the way. The editor who tells you to rewrite the whole darn thing. The beta readers who say your story is all well and good, but … [insert some opinions or tweak here].  The literary agent who rejects your query because they don’t think your work is marketable or your story doesn’t appeal to them or just flat-out says “No” and gives no reason whatsoever.  The publisher who won’t accept unsolicited submissions.  The lack of shelf space to sell your book. Then there’s you. As a writer, you’re just plain wrong. Your subject’s in the wrong genre. It’s not YA. It doesn’t take place in some dark dystopian future. It’s not trendy. It’s not erotic enough. It’s too erotic. It resembles someone else’s story and they did it first. The list goes on and on.

Let’s not forget self-publishing. There are more choices and possibilities out there for writers who want to bypass those gatekeepers and end up stumbling on a whole new set. The public, for one. Getting your book and your name out there is easier … and harder, than ever.  You can tweet. You can blog. You can beg people on Facebook to like and follow you. You can set up publicity bursts, attend writer’s conferences, buy time on websites, hire an illustrator, and buy book packages. There are so many choices and many more ways to empty your wallet.

So the question isn’t, why am I not published yet? The question is, why write in the first place? Because we’re storytellers. We like making people laugh, grin and turn the page to find out what happens.

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