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You Have One In A Million Chance of Being Published ... Or Do You? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I am of the belief that this number is grossly exaggerated and you have more chance of being published than you would think. There is no official statistic that verifies the 'one in a million', it's just an arbitrary number thrown about to simply say 'It's extremely unlikely you'll get published'. What you've got to remember though, is this number, this concept of 'unlikely' is drawn from every single manuscript that crosses an editors/publishers desk. That includes creased, grubby, handwritten, tea stained manuscripts, immediate slush pile material. Take those into consideration and that one in a million is decreased providing when you send in your manuscript, it's pristine and perfectly presented.

How can we reduce that percentage further? Pristine and perfectly presented is only one reason an editor/publisher won't immediately put your submission on the slush pile and they'll have many little things to arbitrarily reduce their daily workload and increase their chances of finding something worth reading and then hopefully consider publishing. Here's a list I personally have in my head at all times in order to increase the chance of being published. I better add this little sentence at the end stating that I'm not suggesting this guarantees publication, it just increases your chance. I know how some of these threads go :)

1: As I've said above, make sure your manuscript is pristine and is perfectly presented. No coffee stains. No grubby fingerprints. (Slush pile test one: PASS)

2: Make sure the formatting is to the established standards. Some sites have certain layouts they prefer. Check those out if need be. (Slush pile test two: PASS)

3: Make sure there are no spelling mistakes, grammar errors or punctuation errors, especially on the first page. (Slush pile test three: PASS)

4: Try to make sure you have a compelling first sentence coupled with an equally compelling first paragraph, or better still, page. (Slush pile test four: PASS)

5: If you can grab the editors/publishers attention with an interesting style/voice ... bonus (Slush pile test five: PASS)

6: Don't take the title of your Novel/Short for granted. Often, especially in shorts, they're as important as the first line. (Slush pile test six: PASS)

7: Introduce your main protagonist as soon as possible, unless you excel at 5 (Slush pile test seven: PASS)

8: Try to make sure you don't have any obvious 'newbie' mistakes such as using words like 'really' all the time or using filter words .. well the list goes on and I want to keep this short: (Slush pile test eight: PASS)

I'm sure any editors/publishers on this site will be able to add to this list. The aim here is to at least get read. Getting read significantly increases your chances of getting published. Not getting read, because of the above, guarantees you are even more unlikely to ever get published, unless you hit an editor/publisher on their best ever day with only your manuscript sat on the table before them ... which is even more unlikely than getting published.
 
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Terry D

Retired Supervisor
I've never, in 40 years of writing fiction, read the "one in a million" statistic from any reliable source. So, what you are suggesting is to write a good story, with compelling characters, and present it in an interesting and professional manner to increase your chances of publication. Makes sense.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I've never, in 40 years of writing fiction, read the "one in a million" statistic from any reliable source. So, what you are suggesting is to write a good story, with compelling characters, and present it in an interesting and professional manner to increase your chances of publication. Makes sense.
Basically, yeah. But it's more, isn't it. The statistics, whatever they are, are skewed because they don't take into account the thousands and thousands of manuscripts that don't even get past the sludge pile. That the chances are still low, even if you do make that extra effort, but they're certainly increased.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
It's not a bet. You have the chances that you have, based on the work that you present. If you have something that publishers deem saleable, at a time when they think they can sell it, then you have a 1-in-1 chance. It's never about rolling the dice and always about earning your place. If you can have the right book in the right place at the right time, it will sell. It's your job to get it there.
 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
I think these odds came about from someone in the publishing industry, way back in the 1980s, maybe a bit earlier. They figured out about how many manuscripts came in at every publishing house (and there were a lot more "big" ones back then, not to mention the smaller publishers), and then how many books each house actually published in a year. It was a huge number submitted, especially in the days when "going over the transom" was more of a possibility (i.e., not needing an agent to submit).

As to your other points, I agree. I used to read horror stories about some of the manuscripts that would come in, tattered, dirty, written in weird fonts and colors, with corrections made. Then the author would ask for them back, but not send return postage.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I imagine that the number of submitted manuscripts is going up fast - there are a lot of retired boomers (raising my hand here) that always wanted to write but were too busy providing/caring for their families to actually sit down and write. With the success of self publishing platforms, like Amazon risk being left in the dust; traditional publishers aren't the only game in town anymore.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Get it out of your head that the only thing you have to solve to get an agent and publisher is to have great writing. Publishing is a about what they FEEL they can sell. So often, what agents are looking for are stories that the believe the public and publishers are currently into. This is partially why agents ask for comps when you query them. Yes, writing is very important, but the business of writing supersedes the art. You can have great writing, but if the topic is in a "dead genre", you'll have a very tough time getting it to market.

If you're really into getting traditionally published, look into what's hot in the marketplace and what agents are currently searching for, then scratch that itch.

Good writing that hits all of the market's wants will have a far better chance than great writing that no one is interested in.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
My personal odds, zero. I look at the sort of comments Tettsuo just made and read people's experiences with publishers and thought 'No, not for me, I don't want to write stuff I am not interested in, even submission letters'. Then my mate pointed out that I actually have a good reading voice, so I am reading it all onto YouTube. 700+ hits so far, 45 readings, and both are growing. I am thinking of starting an associated channel for my novel read in chapters. It costs me nothing in tribulation or money, not even a stamp, and I have total control. Admittedly I am not making any money from it, but while it might be nice to make a bigger donation to Oxfam than usual, or have a week in the Lake District, I don't really need it and that was never the main point.
 
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