No dissing the writers

Dear Miss Snark,

I'm pretty new to this publishing business and even newer to the online writer's community--which feels enormous. I'm quickly becoming overwhelmed by how many would-be-authors are querying qnd getting rejected. Is there room on the shelves for more books? Do I really have a chance at landing an agent and a publishing deal? Does anyone?

Thanks for the en/dis-couragement (as you see fit).



Anonymous said...

Not to worry, youngling.

Readers can read books faster than we can write 'em.

Write well and you will sell.

And the next time you fling a bloody awful book across the room and declare "I can do better than THAT!" siddown and prove it.

Worked pretty well for me.

~Nancy said...

New authors are published all the time; I know of a few over on the Absolute Write forum, so it can be done (and, yes, they met with rejection at first, too).

What it takes is dedication, perseverance, and the ability to tell a story in an entertaining way (among other things ;-)).

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Ha! The online writers community is way smaller than the writers community as a whole. It's just a wee little subset.

A.F. said...

Miss Snark,

I am going to have to agree and disagree to your answer too this email.

Here is what I would have answered:

"Is there room on the shelves for more books?"
There's always room for more books.

"Do I really have a chance at landing an agent and a publishing deal?"
Not with an attitude like that. If you are questioning your ability then there are 2 things you can do. Practice and get better so you don't have to ask this question or quit.

"Does anyone?"
With the right attitude, practice and persistence then yes.

Dave said...

If only one person in every thirty thousand bought your book, you would be considered a success.
the math:
There are 300 million people in the USA. divide by 10,000 books and you get 30,000 people.
That's better odds than the lottery.

jamiehall said...

It is easy to be overwhelmed. Educate yourself first. The link http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/05/victoria-strauss-learning-ropes.html is a great place to start.

Christine Fletcher said...

If you're writing only to get published, you'll likely quit in frustration.

If you're writing because you love the craft, and you'd continue to write whether you get published or not, you stand a chance.

Educate yourself about the industry, yes. But first and foremost, concentrate on your craft.

I'm a slush pile success. It can happen, and it's not even that uncommon. But by the time I landed an agent and a book deal, I'd put 10 years into my writing.

What I know for sure: If I lose my publishing career tomorrow, I'll still be tapping at the keyboard.

j h woodyatt said...

That's better odds than the lottery.

Just about everything has better odds than the lottery.

Ryan Field said...

Twenty years ago when I was still in college and began querying agents and submitting short stories to editors I found much of the same advice being given then that new writers are seeing now. It's always been an uphill struggle for writers. The only differernce now is the internet and the fact that we don't have to visit the post office as often. And, getting help and advice through blogs like this one makes life better for new writers, too, because it's free.

But there have always been "would-be authors" who are "querying and getting rejected" and there probably always will be. You have to persist, and sometimes bite your tongue, but the more you write the better you get.

cmonster said...

Hey, just because all the other writer wannabes suck doesn't mean you do.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Yeah. I got some room on my shelves for more books, soon as I move the philodendren.

Watcha got?

Rei said...

Hey, I'm working on my third revision of my query letter. Guess what happens if, once I finalize it and send it out to my next batch of agents, it doesn't get any bites?

I'll start work on the fourth version.

Heather Janes said...

Just look at the Deals emails from Publishers Marketplace. There are a handful of debut fiction writers in nearly every email.

ORION said...

Did someone say LOTTERY?

I was going to comment but everybody pretty much said what I was going to say except for this.
I write because I must right. My primary motivation is for me to express myself and only secondarily for readers to read my words and hear my story.
Being published is an added bonus. If I did not have an agent or if my book was not sold I would still be writing.
I still AM writing.

Shawn said...

Just read Miss Snark for a while and you'll see a pattern:

"Write well."

"Just write well."

"Stop obsessing, new writer, and write well."

"There's no secret, grasshopper, just write well."

"Don't worry, just wr-- WHAT? YOU HAD A FUCKING AVATAR OF YOURSELF IN YOUR LETTERHEAD?? ARE YOU CRAZY? I TOSS THOSE QUERIES RIGHT AWAY! WHAT KIND OF HIGH-MAINTENANCE EGOTISTIC FUCKTARD ARE YOU???-- Now, where was I? Oh yes, write well. Lord knows why you writers just can't get that simple message through your head."

Dan Leo said...

Miss Snark: Mistress of the one-word response that speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

I think what you're experiencing now is that "cripes" moment when you cross from the realm of the clueless to the world of the educated aspiring author.

It's like you've been jogging along in solitude, expecting the finish line is right around the corner. And then you turn that corner and see that you've been straggling along behind the Boston Marathon - and not only are there 24 miles left to run, but there are thousands of people ahead of you, running toward the same goal. And some of them have been running for years. It can freak you out. It can make you feel like the whole thing is hopeless.

It isn't.

There may not be any shortcuts, but you CAN move to the head of the pack and get published. Just keep taking steps in the right direction.

Tracey said...

Having just landed an agent through querying two weeks ago I can share with you my secret.

Work hard and work harder.

You must learn your craft - and write the best book you can. Be persistant. You will get rejections but don't see them as negative. Learn from them and move on.

Richard Lewis said...

Avoid the pretty writing and just tell a good story.

You'll be surprised just how far that will take you.

wonderer said...

Congratulations, Tracey!

And to the OP: I feel your pain. It's a long road, but we'll get there.

Manic Mom said...

You just can't quit. I told my mother I thought I would stop sending queries out for my novel after 100 of them.

When I told her I landed my agent after I had queried about 150 of the, she asked, "I thought you were going to quit at 100."

I said, "Had I done that, I wouldn't have an agent now, would I?"

Not that I'm a published novelist yet, but I also live by these two mantras/quotes. The first, by Cindy Proctor-King: It takes Talent, Persistence and Timing to make it in this biz.

The other: Henry Ford said: If you think you can do a thing, or think you CAN'T do a thing, you're right.

Keep at it new person! And believe in your work. Hang out here and in other writing online lounges and you'll learn a ton! (and meet great people cyberly and sometimes in real life)

a word's worth said...

Take heart, have hope, listen to Miss Snark, and maybe a little "original" Dylan:

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labor by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art. --Dylan Thomas

Anonymous said...

The world needs MORE good writers!

I think the publishing industry would be in better shape if they only published quality. There is an amazing volume of garbage on the shelves at your local big box or chain bookstore.

If you want to learn about GOOD writing, get to an independent bookstore as quickly as possible.

Don't forget to use your library card to checkout books Miss Snark says to read. :-)

Above all, keep writing.

Sonya said...

Shawn - you owe me a new keyboard. :-)

I just love Miss Snark's one-word answers. So powerful and to-the-point. And so true.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I hate it when my posts seem to be flushed down the great blogger toilet. The world is so cruel!

Hey, It's okay to stress and worry. It's part of the great writer's though process. Besides, it fill the time while you're waiting for your rejection letter.

Mark said...

There's a chance if you do your homework. If not you pretend to win the Gather.com contest. Yur relatives still think you're wonderful.


Every possible writing violation is present and accounted for. Telling; infodumping; adverbiosis; saidisms and no trace of a story present.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Oh, well, attribute all the misspellings in my previous post to being too tired and over medicated. I can spel sumtimes