Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just Luck of the Draw?


I may be forced to revise my sardonic mantra: luck is for rabbits.
Certainly I came to the conclusion long ago during my brief teaching career that a student's hard work and determination was good for 10-15 IQ points anytime in terms of later success.
As you no doubt have realized, I avidly peruse industry blogs in search of Clue Sticks ( TM, MS).
Some of the numbers flung around recently are enough to make me contemplate the acquisition of those fuzzy, spotted danglers from rear view mirrors or a multi-coloured keychain at the corner store check-out.
One agency's blog recently stated recently that they reject 99 percent of the queries, partials and fulls they receive.
Though I was very good at math, I still don't want to try to calculate one's chances on the basis of that rejection rate even if one has received a request for a partial or a full.
In addition, ( is there a penalty for piling on?) I read an idle comment that good agencies usually only take on only one or two new clients a year.
So, if one has noted a couple of recent signings, is one out of luck for this fiscal calendar?
While good writing is a face card, there are only fifty-two cards in the deck and sometimes a joker. Wild.
Sobering statistics.
Drives one to drink.

19 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

Cute picture. Reminds me of my sister.

Ric said...

In keeping with the barnyard theme you started this week,

CREAM ALWAYS RISES TO THE TOP

Write well, someone will eventually notice.

There is also the thought that, literally hundreds of queries and mss. floating around out there have already been rejected 40 - 50 times - that skews the numbers.

that said, there is ultimately a large bit of luck involved.

so tell me, punk, do you feel lucky?

MissWrite said...

Ric is right. (Loved how that sounded. lol)

The statistics are scary when viewed in raw form like that. It gets a WHOLE lot less scary when you see the real picture.

The company I work for also has a roughly 95% rejection rate: mindboggeling... well, until you see 92% of the submissions. LMAO

Of the 8% or so that come in well-written, with strong plotlines, etc... the odds become more reasonable and comfortable.

Write well...write often...you'll succeed.

Marie said...

Definitely a lot of luck is needed these days just to get an agent, nevermind published.

Bernita said...

~ slaps hands to avoid smartass reply to Erik~

Cluck, cluck.
You know I'm chicken, Ric.

Must admit I blenched when I read those blog comments, Tami.
As they say, query widely...

Timing seems a real factor, Marie.

Jen said...

Pass the whiskey.

Bernita said...

Certainly, Jen.
Ya don't mind if it's rum?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...And I bet that the one that gets driven to drink...is not the one that will be chosen! LOL!

I agree with Ric and MissWrite....cream always rises to the top, and write well, write often, and you'll succeed!

Bernita said...

Do you mind if I drink a toast to you, Bonnie?
That was a very cogent and complete comment you made at Miss Snark's today.

Gabriele C. said...

There's a post somewhere on Nielsen/Hayden's blog about how 90% of the submissions fall through for lack of spelling and grammar, sending cozy romances to SciFi agents, golden ink on pink paper, inexistant plots and characters and a number of other things. So, if your submission is black ink on white paper, the agent does represent time travel stories with strong females, you have a plot and interesting characters and your English is above pidgin, you're in the upper 10% already.

Bernita said...

If I can say so without immodesty, Gabriele, I and many other writers are more or less "publishable," whether it's 15, 10, or 5 % that separates the competent writer from the clueless.
However, it is instructive to remind oneself that the gate is narrower than that.

EA Monroe said...

I've read some of those same statistics you've been reading, Bernita. The numbers are disheartening, and like Ric and Miss Write said, we have write to tbe best of our ability and try not to let the numbers discourage too much. Luck, timing, agents and publishers trying to predict what John or Nancy Q. Public will buy, is like a crap shoot. I can't help wondering, if those numbers are purposely meant to discourage. Meanwhile, I'll write what I enjoy writing and maybe someday I might just win the lottery, too!

Tequila, anyone?

Bernita said...

Wondered too, EA, but I don't think the numbers are intended to discourage us, more to warn.
Trouble is the data factors and context are usually incomplete so it's difficult to truly form an equation.

ali said...

I try not to think about it.

People do get published, after all, even if it takes a while.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Numbers are pointless.

Don't believe everything you read on industry blogs.

The most valuable and true piece of advice I ever read about finding an agent is as follows:

"If you've got a great project, then finding an agent is relatively straightforward. If not, then it's nearly impossible."

It was "nearly impossible" for me to find an agent with one book I wrote. I started the next one, queried, and within a few days I had several offers of representation. Within a a few weeks after that, I had a book deal. The difference was night and day and proved to me that I didn't need tricks or playing statistics. All I needed was the right book.

Good luck!

Jaye Wells said...

Bernita, you're giving me an ulcer. Forget alcohol, anyone got any Pepto?

Bernita said...

That's why patience is a writer's chief virtue, Ali.

Thank you, Diane.
Of course, we all tend to think we have a great book...

Didn't mean to, Jaye...but I've read that we may need the pepto later on too...

SassyJill said...

Ack, how depressing. But my Momma taught me never to give up, gotta go with that ^_^*

Bernita said...

Listen to your Momma, Sassyjill!