I recently read the results of a survey of five hundred authors who were asked how long it was before they published their first book. The average was six years. Somewhere else I read that one author had already written ten books before he was published.
This process is so slow it makes winter molasses look like Niagara Falls.
So many of my friends are agented or already published; some are already several books into their careers. Me? I’m still waiting. And suffering from a big case of writer’s envy.
It’s not that Give the Lady a Ride hasn’t generated interest. As I write this, the first five chapters are sitting on an editor’s desk per her request, and if she decides against it, another editor is interested. If either one of these take it, I’m looking at a publishing date sometime in 2011-2012. Considering I started the query process in June of 2009, you can see how frustrating this is. There are a lot of hurdles to jump to be published by a major firm.
Agents and editors are bombarded by folks wanting to see their names on a book cover. Roughly eighty percent of those folks don’t make it to the final round. Of the twenty percent who do, most won’t make it simply because of the publishers’ backlogs. Some publishers only put out five new titles a year; getting to be one of the five is a matter of luck and editor preference. Look at it this way: by the time you’re one of the twenty percent, it has already been determined that your book fits what the publisher wants and what the market is interested in. You’ve shown you have the right product in the right place at the right time. You’ve identified your audience and given an acceptable plan of how to reach them. If the publisher is willing to take a chance on a new author–and you’re one of the twenty percent who survived the cuts–it’s still a matter of luck and preference to be among the last authors standing.
I’m still jumping hurdles, and although the process is slow, things are promising for me. I can do no more than to continue jumping and praying–and maybe I’ll make the ranks with my published friends.