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Does anyone know the average number of times a new author has to submit before acceptance?

I've been looking through this site to understand the difficulty in getting published, and what I see is lots of subjective answers, nothing very objective. Can anyone comment on that?

Here's the deal: Let's say that tomorrow morning 10,000 people wake up with the greatest idea for the novel of the century. What happens next? My understanding is that around 9,000 of them may try to write it but will give up at this stage because they know the odds are against them, and they can put their writing time to better use.

Now we're down to 1,000 people who have fully written and editted (well, according to them) manuscripts that are ready to get shipped off to a publisher/agent. A percentage of these may get read by someone at the publisher who like them enough to pass them on to someone in authority. A (small) percentage of these will warrent an offer to the author. Probably most of those will result in some type of contract, and then a number of those will be purchasable at a bookstore.

Okay, so here're the real question: At each stage in the process, how many authors do we lose? Of those 10k originals, how many will be selling their book at the bookstore?

Any ideas?

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marked as duplicate by Standback Jun 7 '12 at 13:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

It isn't difficult. Put it on Amazon and done. – John Smithers Jun 6 '12 at 20:26
Say I throw a ball in the air. Say it's a hell of a throw. Say you're blindfolded. Can you predict to within 1cm where it will land? Now let's say a thousand people throw a thousand balls. Can you predict where any of them will land? Still probably not. But it's safe to say at least one of them will land at a given point. Which one? Hell, your guess is as good as mine. I know this isn't too helpful in terms of figuring out how much trouble you'll have getting published, but honestly I think it's an accurate comparison from everything I've heard, read, and experienced. – Aerovistae Jun 6 '12 at 20:53
Admittedly, in retrospect, if a statistician had been observing the mad ball-throwers for an extended while, they might be able to tell you where balls most often land, historically speaking. But who is the keeper of such statistics, I do not know. – Aerovistae Jun 6 '12 at 20:56
Ok, let me be a little bit more precise about what I'm asking. I'm not asking for myself to tryto figure out the chances of publishing my book. I'm trying to understand the large numbers to try to get a feel for how "publishing" works in general. The effect of throwing a thousand balls in the air is a good analogy. I'd like to know how many are expected to fall within a certain area. I don't care which ones they are. Another way to look at it is I care about the MACRO effects of publishing. I'm less intersted in the MICRO isues (e.g. will this book be published?). – Sander Smith Jun 6 '12 at 21:41

There is absolutely no way to give a truly objective answer to this question, which is exactly why you keep seeing subjective responses. We have determined through other posts that about 1 author in 1000 will be offered a contract for representation from an agent. That still doesn't guarantee even then that the book will get published.

There are just too many factors that can influence the final answer, such as the genre of the book, the hot trends at the time the book is submitted, and the timing in general. If you submit a suspense novel at the same time that three top selling authors in that genre are pushing new works, then publishers may consider the market to be "saturated", which is a polite way of saying you don't have a chance in hell at competing with those three established authors.

The fact that agents and publishers do not keep track of the number of manuscripts they review OR reject makes it virtually impossible to determine a truly objective number. Even the numbers you offer were derived after making certain assumptions, so you are already working with a subjective hypothesis.

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