Nothing can guarantee the success of a novel. Not a great story or a great author or great writing. Maybe that sounds a bit defeatist. I don’t mean it to. Sometimes, facts do get in the way of a faery tales story.
I don’t have a mathematical formula for calculating the probability of getting published but I imagine it would be similar to winning the lottery or, even better, the World Series.
Unlike in other sports, where a single player can have a significant impact (see: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers), no one player can change the fate of a baseball team. Not even Mike Trout and his God-like stats can win a championship alone. You need a lot of little pieces stuck together in the right order, at the right time, to be successful. A solid defense, a good offense, hitters to get hot and find some holes to poke a few extra hits through.
Let’s continue this metaphor. If you’re an 81 win baseball team, that’s not good. Not horrible enough to suck but not good enough to make the playoffs. Let’s call it League Average (no ties in baseball). The average number of victories needed to make the play offs 2015? 92.6 wins. That’s a difference of 9.4 runs.
Somehow, you have make up the difference between League Average and Playoffs. Money, as always is a factor. Budgeting. I can’t go out and hire a $400/hour editor or a spend $93 million on advertising.
Well, I could, I suppose. But it’s certainly not the most efficient proposal I’ve ever heard. They are definitely solutions but I don’t have the resources to expend on them. Maybe one day.
Rather, to raise my myself to level I want, I have to play for wins in the margin, eking enough here and there to reach the goal of getting an agent and being published.
- Asking for advice is the long relief pitcher who holds the lead.
- Combating complacency is the urge to keep playing and score more runs.
- Editors are like managers. I’m not sure what a good one does but I know a horrible one, kind of thing?
These analogies won’t hold the best water, but they’re good enough for me. Which is the point that by themselves, they won’t get you published. Tying them to the goal of publication will help put me in a position to realize that goal.
A writer agent is like making the play offs.
Why do I say all of this? Because in the end, I’m not going to be blessed suddenly with Stephen King’s writing talent, or GRRMartin’s fanbase. I’m not turning from a replacement level player into Felix Hernandez or Cliff Lee. I’m not the NY Yankees or LA Dodgers with bags of cash to throw around.
Years of writing and practice and I still have a base talent that I’m stuck with. But by utilizing the options I have around me, I can earn some extra wins and maybe better my odds of getting published.
It is a slim margin, sure. That’s all I’m asking for. A single path to success. Even if it’s hard and tenuous.