Thursday, April 28, 2011
ASK BACK: If your agent advised you, before shopping your unpublished manuscript, that in your particular case you would earn much more by self-publishing as an e-book, would you be happy to follow his advice and skip a publisher submission? If so, would you continue to want the agent to represent you, and under what terms?
"Is the editor turnaround really so high that it only takes a few years for those who rejected your work to leave the industry?"
Yes. The good news for unpublished authors is that it is true that editor turnover is so high that it is quite likely that, three years from now, most editors in their current positions won’t be there anymore. Some will become agents; some will become freelance editors; some will leave the industry altogether. And the ones who remain will likely, three years from now, be working at a different imprint or publisher. The editor who, three years from now, is still working at the same imprint is increasingly a rarity. I’d say that will be the case for perhaps only 20% of editors on any given submission list.
It has always been this way. Book publishing is a high burn-out industry, and it offers little compensation for a very high workload. Many people who enter will leave it within a few years. I still have submission lists from books I submitted in 1996: when I look back on them now, not a single editor remains in the same imprint (many of which folded), and 90% of them have left the industry.
So the good news for unpublished authors is that, if editors reject your manuscript, then if you are willing to wait two or three years, you will have a (mostly) clean slate to try again.
But in the big picture, I advise that when you finish writing one manuscript, you immediately turn to writing another. Don’t wait. The more books you have out there, the better your chances. Ultimately, it’s better to rely on the submission of multiple books over three years than it is for you to just sit there and wait three years to re-submit the same book.
This is one of the (many) reasons why I say that, when setting out to get published, one should prepare oneself for a marathon, not a sprint. Quite often, what makes the difference between authors who get published and those who don’t is simply the number of years they were willing to hang in there. Perseverance is everything.