I love writing for Linda Holmes, doyenne of NPR.org’s Monkey See.

Love it!

The latest post in my series, The First Novel Experience, “The Weird Thrilling Trip Through a Very Narrow Door” begins…

To gauge the practicality of investing the long years of speculative writing that it takes to produce a first novel, I asked my agent, Kate Garrick of DeFiore & Company, to estimate the percentage of the first novels submitted to her she considers saleable. Her answer (like all these answers, via e-mail):

NPR monkey see first novelI’d probably qualify it a little by saying that I’m only looking for certain kinds of books at any given moment, but I tend to receive queries that cover the whole spectrum of publishing, and so it’s absolutely possible a lot of the books I pass on for being outside my wheelhouse will go on to find homes.

That said: probably 1%? Maybe a little less.

What this says to me is that writing a novel is neither a sound financial investment nor a reliable career move.

Yet, I did it. More than once. And last year, Dominic Smith (as he wrote in themillions.com) trolled available data and concluded that one million other Americans were currently working on novels, most of which will never be bought by a publisher.

So what about the 1%, the never-published novelists who fly in the face of reason and the odds, keep slogging away, and then – cue the thunderclap! – land an agent who sells their work. Is their writing process somehow less vexing in retrospect?

The rest of this post can be found right here



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