Querying, submitting, and publishing: a daunting series of hoops

Here is an abbreviated list of hoops that a trade published book often jumps through (apologies to those for whom this familiar);

  • finishing
  • agent querying
  • pitch to publishers
  • request & first reads
  • second reads
  • acquisitions (itself a multi-stage process)
  • offer & contract negotiations

At every stage the book can die. For writing, it might never get finished. For querying, it likely won’t snag an agent. For pitching, it might get few or no requests (unlikely tbf). For first reads, it usually doesn’t make second reads. For sales/acquisitions, it may not pass for a multitude of reasons. For offers, everything can fall through at the last minute.

Most debut books go through this or very similar process to appear on a shelf, and having once appeared there, may not sell well or earn out their advance.

Most authors write multiple books before finding an agent. Many authors go through multiple submission rounds with more than one novel, sometimes having more than one agent, before securing a deal. And most career authors will scrape by on minimum wage.

If you are a woman, you might make 20% less than your male colleagues.


Some general stats if you aren’t bored yet;

around 81% of Americans say they want write to a book. That’s about 200 million people. Maybe 10% of them try (that’s hugely generous.)

97% of people who do try, don’t finish the first novel

– of those who finish, only 1/1000 acquire an agent

– Agented authors have about 1-10% chance of being bought by a publisher

– Most books don’t earn out their advance (though that isn’t necessarily a problem)


Sooo appreciate your books when you buy them! They’ve been through a lot.

Some useful links I keep saved:


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