Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I asked people on Facebook to tell me what they’d like me to address on the blog. One responder said:
Is it still possible to get a book deal these days if you have a great story but you aren’t a celebrity and it’s not a story that’s on the front pages? I know a good story, I know how to write, I meet deadlines, and I get really nice letters back from literary agents – but still no agent. If I was a celebrity, I’d have one. Super frustrating!
Well, the answer is simple: yes.
There are debut authors getting published in all genres. If that wasn’t the case, why in the world would an agent accept queries? Queries are mostly from unpublished writers. If it were impossible for non-celebrities to get published, then agents wouldn’t accept queries, and they wouldn’t attend writers’ conferences either. They’d just put big “Closed” signs on their websites and never look at incoming submissions or try to meet new writers. We don’t do that, because we’re always looking for new books from new authors.
The reason it’s so hard is that the number of “slots” available for debut authors in traditional publishing is shrinking, while the number of writers pitching books is growing. This is a field with a ridiculous amount of competition, kind of like acting or singing. Sometimes it’s a numbers game. The marketplace is crowded.
If traditional publishing is your goal, then there’s no substitute for persistence. I’ve found that a lot of people think they know what persistence means until they’ve gotten numerous rejections. Trying to get published feels like an uphill battle, they get super frustrated, and they forget that this is exactly the moment when persistence is supposed to kick in. Persistence isn’t a factor when you’ve just started. Persistence is what’s needed after the 20th and the 50th and the 200th rejection.
Persistence doesn’t mean just keep trying the same thing over and over. It means persisting to find what will work. Continuing to become a better writer. Seeking out the agents who might like your work. Improving your pitch. Doing everything you can until you find the right path for yourself.
And guess what? If we allowed ourselves to, agents could be just as frustrated as you are about the whole “celebrity” thing. We could sit around and bemoan the latest million-dollar book deal and be frustrated that the agents who rep famous people have it easy. (Actually, sometimes we do sit around and complain about that.) But then we get back to work.
Just like you. Get back to work.
Can you relate to this frustration?