As a three-time published author and creative writing teacher, I get asked a lot: “What is the secret to getting your book published?” Many of the interrogators are disappointed, some even disbelieving, when I tell them there is no secret. Getting published is about three key elements and none of them is a secret but all three play an important role. Book publishing requires a combination of luck, timing, and talent.
I know too much about the publishing game (and it is a game as much as it is a business) to discount the importance of luck when it comes to getting your book published. I have watched a lot of authors come and go. I have watched a lot of would-be authors do everything right to exploit their talent and then fade away into oblivion. I have watched a select few authors make mistakes and still come out with successful careers. While luck isn’t everything and should certainly not be a key part of your publishing and writing strategy, you need to allow for an element of luck — whether it is bad or good.
Timing is a crucial part of becoming a published author as opposed to being simply a writer. You could have the best book idea in the world and the most incredible writing talent but if you are delivering a book too similar to one they just bought or published then your timing is bad. Likewise, you could have a good book that hits the publishing house just when they are on a buying freeze and your book could languish for weeks or months — or simply be rejected. The difference between timing and luck though is that you can control your timing much more than you can manipulate luck. Here information is the key. The more research you do into your market then the better able you will be to work timing to your favor. I have a friend who made her first sale by carefully researching the market and delivering to her chosen publisher the perfect idea at the perfect time.
Of course, talent is important to getting published and becoming successful. You need to be a talented writer and possess the creative genius to create characters and plots that make for great reading. However, I save this element for last as without luck and timing then all the talent in the world may not be enough to get yours published. I think in the end a talented writer could find a publisher, but it would be a long arduous process and most writers become discouraged and quit before achieving their goal.
It is possible to become a published author. New writers are getting published every year. It is not easy to get published but a combination of luck, timing, and talent can help you get your book published. While you cannot control your luck, you do have the power to control your timing and talent. Work on gathering information and work on your writing. You can succeed at book publishing.