An Embarrassment of Riches
Wow, that was an amazing discussion yesterday on the writer’s passion. Thanks for contributing! If you haven’t read all the comments from yesterday, you really should. They offer an incredible amount of invaluable advice and encouragement.
And speaking of passion! It’s showing up in my inbox in the form of queries about 10 to 20 times a day. That’s a lot of book ideas. I’m always so impressed at the sheer number of people who have gone to the trouble of writing books, putting together proposals, and querying agents. I guess I should be used to it by now, but for some reason I’m continually surprised. Sometimes while I’m working at my computer and I see them popping into my email box, usually 1 or 2 an hour, I just think to myself, Another! And another!
It’s truly an embarrassment of riches. Every single query that gets to my inbox represents someone’s passion, their heart and soul, their hard work, often years of their life. Each one could possibly change lives or inspire or entertain or teach… or all of the above. There is unlimited potential to change the world in my inbox everyday! I am humbled and awed at the privilege of being the recipient of such treasure.
Thank you to all of you writers who put yourselves out there, make the effort, follow your passion, and pursue that publishing dream. I admire and salute you.
But… (don’t you hate the but?) …there’s a downside to this, unfortunately. It’s the vast quantities of queries. The route of traditional, royalty-paying publishing has become very much a numbers game. Whether an agent or publisher says yes or no doesn’t only depend on your own project; it also depends on all the other projects on the desk or inbox at the same time, i.e. your competition. The bigger the stack, the higher the odds.
You’re not writing and submitting in a vacuum, as you know. You’re putting your work out there against everyone else’s work. Each agent has limited client spots. Each publisher has limited (and shrinking) book slots. Everyone has to make tough decisions, especially on the projects they really like. That’s when it’s hardest, because we often have to let go of projects we think are really good, in favor of ones we think are better or more saleable for some reason.
We all have an embarrassment of riches on our desks, and the more we have, the smaller the odds of any certain one being “picked.” Maybe your project is good; maybe it’s even great. But how many other great projects are on my desk? You really can’t do anything about this aspect of publishing. Neither can I… it’s out of our control! You have to just keep trying. Keep pressing forward. And remember that if you’re getting enough rejections to wallpaper your office, it may not be strictly about your work not being good enough. It could just be about the very high odds, the sheer numbers of people competing with you for slots.
Because of this, tomorrow I’m going to spend a little time on the blog pondering the future of publishing. The good news is, you have lots of options for getting your work published!