This week, I reached the 40,000 word mark on my book (41,493 to be exact). According to Amazon, the median novel length is about 64,000. So, I’m presumably a little more than halfway done writing (the first draft of) my book! As I’m writing, I’m also researching what it takes to be published. It’s a long process, but here’s the P.S.-long-story-short version:
- Once you finish a book (I mean really finish it, I.e. It’s free of grammatical errors, all the plot lines are tied up nicely, etc.) you begin to query agents for representation. For the most part, you cannot send your manuscript to a large publishing company without representation. (If you do, it ends up in the “slush pile”, and may or may not get read by anyone.)
- To query an agent, you send them a one-page letter that introduces you and your book. Every agent is looking for something different — one agent may not accept young adult novels, while another is looking specifically for non-fiction or another represents only sci-fi writers.
- If an agent is interested in reading your work, he/she might request a partial manuscript (usually the first 50-100 pages) and/or a full manuscript.
- If the agent likes your manuscript, they may offer to represent you, which means that they will send your manuscript to editors at publishing houses (so it won’t end up in the slush pile! Yay!)
The more I’ve read up on this process, the more I realize how grueling and disheartening it is. Here’s one literary agent’s stats from 2010:
36,000 query letters received (that’s 120 per day).
839 requests for partial manuscripts
98 requests for full manuscripts
28 book deals were made with this agency and they currently have 6 projects on submission
That means that a writer interested in this agent has a 0.27% chance of getting a full manuscript request and a 0.09% chance of getting represented by this agency. However, once a writer was represented by this agency, they had a 77% chance of getting published. BTW, this is not an agency in NYC. This agency is in Colorado (AKA, NOT the publishing capital of the world). This is pretty consistent with the other stats that I’ve read.
In the mean time, this is what I’m doing:
|Courtesy of Writer's Market|
So that’s the real deal. Prayers are requested and appreciated.