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How to Get Published
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Over at This Writing Life, Mark Terry talks about Goals and Faith for writers:

I'm here today to tell you that you can make it. That if you have the goal of eventually getting your novel published, that yes, persistence and constantly trying to improve your craft will eventually win out and you will get published. I believe it and you need to as well.

I'm quite confident that any of you CAN get published. I'm not as confident that you WILL get published. That's up to you, mostly. Luck definitely plays a factor, but you can mitigate luck by working the odds in your favor--be persistent and learn to write well. Changing CAN to WILL is tougher and only you can control that.

Despite my rather gloomy outlook on book publishing in general, I agree with Mark that aspiring novelists have a good chance of being published, if "being published" is defined as, at a minimum, having a book out from a legitimate small publisher.

I don't think anyone has come up with reliable statistics about numbers of "publishable" submissions as compared to numbers of publishing slots and I'm sure there are perfectly respectable books which never get published. But from my observations I think it is clear that the vast majority of aspiring writers -- even those who have written a good book - do not persevere long enough and thus remove themselves from the game.

In the first place, most people who think they would like to have a novel published never write one. It isn't surprising. Completing a novel is a daunting task, even when you've managed to do it a few times. Unfortunately, for those who do actually write a novel, first books rarely get published. Mine didn't. Of those writers who finish one novel and fail to sell it (almost all of them) how many will never write another? A huge percentage I'd guess. Then there are those who will write a second, but not a third, or a fourth or however many it takes, or who will not send their books out enough.

Although this is harder to pinpoint, there are also aspiring authors who will write and write but refuse to learn anything, who will persist in turning out work that anyone who opened their eyes would see was unpublishable before the first page was written. These are writers who are convinced they know everything, that editors and agents are all mercenary dolts who can't recognize true genius. They will persevere but only in making the same mistakes over and over.

The percentage of aspiring authors who manage to actually hang on and do what is usually necessary to get published is, I think, small. So, yes, I think aspiring authors who are stubborn have a good shot at getting published, probably a better shot at it than those who are merely talented.

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