Monday, 25 January 2010

More on Submissions -2

Having earlier covered the extravagant unlikelihood of getting an agent, I have some more cheerless news for would-be writers.

In 2006 The Times sent the opening chapters of a novel to a variety of agents and publishers. And not a new writer's try, either, but the beginning of a Booker prize winner, VS Naipaul's In a Free State.

Not one of the agents or publishers approached recognised the talent they were holding in their hands. We know possible reasons why: the subjectivity of what is "good" and the sheer numbers of submissions...

'Carole Blake, of Blake Friedmann, receives up to 50 novels a day but takes on just six new authors a year. “We have two book agents and we’re pretty full,” she said. “So unless something leaps off the page as amazingly commercial or literary, it is very unlikely we will take new clients on.”'

I make those odds about 6 in 18,000, or about 1 in 3,000, strikingly similar to the odds I mentioned in a previous post. (Assume that when The Times says novel, it means the opening of one.)

So if you have had a polite rejection, you are in good company. A Booker prize winner has had the same treatment (or a virtual one, at least). A new writer should get used to the realities of the craft.

Be prepared for a long winter.

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