Monday, February 11, 2008

Will Your First Novel Get Published?

Here are some interesting statistics about first novels. From them, I'd say it's fairly common that the first novel a person writes is either never published or is published after a later novel (and usually after some revision using what the author has since learned about writing).

First, The Rejecter blogged about Twenty-Something Writers and said:

Generally people are not published on the first novel they write. The industry lore is that it's the third book you submit for publication that is the one that gets published. For me it was true, though I would say that was the ... I don't know, 10th manuscript I'd written. Something like that. And this is not including any writing I did in junior high or high school. Except for the occasional literary genius, writing a novel is a bit like driving: it takes some hours behind the wheel before you're good enough for a license.

Tobias Buckell did a survey on how many novels did you write before selling one? A summary of the results:

Out of a group of 10 writers who will go on to be published (we can’t guess at how many are turned away unpublished, right, this is a self selecting group), 3 will sell the first novel they write. 1 will write some, or a lot, of short fiction before selling their first novel. 1-2 will sell their second. The other half will write 3 or more novels before breaking in.

So it seems that the key to getting published is to keep on writing new material rather than obsessively reworking your query letter or revising your first novel.

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