Tuesday, February 13, 2007

probabilities and agents

Like lots of writers these days I've thought about using some of my energies to search out and enlist the aid of an agent to try and improve the chances of marketing a Ms., or at least, one for my latest YA novel. Agents, of course, would prefer a novelist with credits, so in the past I've tried the unsolicited Ms. route to the better known publishing houses. If you're not going to do simultaneous submissions, which many houses say they do not accept, it's a pretty time consuming route. Out of several YA novels I've submitted over the past eight years, the maximum number of submittals I've managed for any one novel was about six--twice I waited up to a year for a reply. I don't know what the probabilities are at book publishers, but I read an interesting article by an associate editor at a literary journal, on the success rates for short story Ms. at such journals. He figured there was an average one-percent chance of being accepted, and since that encompasses a lot of marginal work, he gave himself at least a five-percent chance of having his own stories accepted at any given journal. He had a math instructor do his statistics and he figured he needed on average to submit his Ms. up to 56 times to be confident of having a story accepted. I would have thought with a probability of five-percent it would have been twenty submittals, but you get the idea. If the percentages are the same for books, and it took on average about six months to hear back from a book publisher, you might not learn whether you had a viable novel for up to ten years. A competent agent would have a better idea of the market than me, and assuming the agent liked the novel, it would seem like a win-win situation to sign on with one. So much for the marketing quandry; I'm looking forward to some fiction writing tomorrow morning. To have a few smiles about what comes across the transom of a sharp, no nonsense agent, see Miss Snark's blog.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Fiction Writer's Blog by Gaelwriter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.