How Hard is it to Get a Book Published?

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There are no guarantees you’ll land a publishing deal, but there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances. So, how hard is it to get a book published? Well, it depends on a number of variables.


Many authors dream of signing with a major publisher. And even though we here at BookFuel are all about self-publishing, we understand the allure of going the traditional route, receiving an advance, and having a professional marketing team behind you.


For now, I won’t delve into how the reality of a traditional deal often differs from the dream. Instead, let’s focus on the questions at hand:


How hard is it to get a book published through a traditional deal? Is it actually possible, or just a pipe dream?


The honest answer is that getting published isn’t hard if you have what agents and editors want. It really is that simple. You don’t need connections or secret handshakes. You can just be a regular person and still get a deal.


I know this because I’m a regular person, and I got a deal. I didn’t have any industry connections or insider knowledge. I simply had a book that an agent and a publisher wanted.


What are the odds of getting a book published?


In the crowded world of aspiring authors, whether you make the cut is partly a numbers game. Here’s what I did:

I attended a writer’s conference and met a literary agent who invited me to send him my manuscript. He liked it, helped me polish it, and then made a single phone call that landed me a deal. The whole process took around three months.


You might be wondering, “If it’s that simple, why isn’t everyone a published author?” For the most part, it boils down to numbers.


To secure a deal with a major publisher, you first need to land an agent, as editors at these companies don’t accept manuscripts from unrepresented authors. An agent typically receives fifty to a hundred manuscripts every day, adding up to 4,000–5,000 a year. Out of these thousands, each agent usually only accepts between three and ten new authors annually.


On the surface, the numbers don’t look promising.


(There are smaller publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts from un-agented authors, and you should consider querying them, though their acceptance rates might be even lower due to higher submission volumes.)


Factors that impact your chances


To tilt the odds in your favor, you need to be strategic throughout the publishing process. From convincing the right agent that you’re a good match to crafting an irresistible manuscript, these elements go hand in hand: your material should align with the agents you pursue, and vice versa.


Landing the right agent


Not only are the numbers daunting, but the process of querying agents can be tiresome, confusing, and time-consuming.


To properly query an agent, you need to do some homework to find one who represents the type of book you’ve written. If you’re aiming to publish the next Harry Potter, don’t pitch it to an agent who specializes in romance or nonfiction. Instead, reach out to someone with a focus on fantasy.


Once you find a good fit, you have to follow their specific querying guidelines—every agent wants something different. Then, you need to master new skills, like writing the perfect query letter and book synopsis. You also have to identify the perfect comps (comparable titles). None of these skills are intuitive, but there are plenty of online articles to help you out.


Moreover, if an agent does respond to you—not all of them do—their rejection emails are usually form letters:


“I appreciate the opportunity to consider your writing. Unfortunately, your project does not sound like a good fit for me at this time, and so I will have to pass.” That’s a direct quote from a rejection email I received recently.


You won’t get actionable feedback. You won’t learn from your mistakes or know what the agent didn’t like. Was it your query letter, synopsis, or writing sample? Did they receive too many similar manuscripts? Did you catch them at a bad time? You will never know.


(If you’re wondering why I am looking for an agent after having once gotten a book deal, well, that’s a long, boring story, but also one that is fairly common. Just because you’ve published one book — or, in my case, ten — doesn’t mean you’re going to publish another.)


So, maybe it’s not that easy


If you do manage to land an agent (congratulations!), that does not guarantee you’ll get a publishing deal. Sometimes agents and authors aren’t a good fit for each other. Also, it’s not like you need a degree or an official certification to be a literary agent. So, it’s possible you might land an agent who’s not very good at their job.


In conclusion, while there are no guarantees in the world of publishing, success is achievable with the right combination of perseverance, strategy, and a bit of luck. Keep honing your craft, be tactical in your approach, and stay resilient in the face of rejection. Your publishing dream might just be around the corner.


For more insights and tips on navigating the publishing world, visit our website at and check out our YouTube channel for expert advice and inspiring success stories.


Stay determined and happy writing!

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