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Will I ever get published and become a successful author or am I a deluded fool?


This is from the tor/forge (Tom Doherty Associates, LLC) FAQ page:

"We have an open submissions policy and consider tens of thousands of projects a year."

Out of those tens of thousands, how many of those submissions get published and their author goes on to be successful? I submitted a manuscript to Tor once. It was a very long time ago and it took over a year to get a friendly rejection letter.

Ever since then, I've kind of given up on the dream that one day I'd get published and sell a ton of books and could actually make a living as a fiction writer. Sure there's self-publishing but that takes a lot of time and money that I don't have and even then that doesn't guarantee that I'd be successful.

I think that over the years, looking at how many people want to be writers and send in submissions that never make it any further than getting skimmed by some editorial staff member, I've gotten less and less hopeful.

It's made me take a more realistic view on whether or not this will ever happen for me. As much as I like to fantasize and daydream of being another GRRM or (insert famous author here), I've come to realize that maybe I'm a deluded fool.

In my time here at Mythic Scribes, I've seen the work of and gotten to know many incredibly talented writers who deserve to get published but likely never will.

This makes me sad.
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Why should it though? Thousands of talented athletes never make it to the big leagues, but many of them continue doing what they love. They play their favorite sport, or any sport, as a recreation. They have fulfilling lives outside of that particular sphere of influence. They love it, so how can you feel bad about that?

Similarly, many talented writers will not get published, that is just the way it works. Yet many will continue doing what they love, writing, while having fulfilling lives outside of being a published author. Publishing isn't the end all be all. For many, including me, it's the journey. The very creative act is was stimulates me and keeps me going. I will never be GRRM or Tolkien, but I am Brian Scott Allen. My identity is more than my writing. To not be published is no shame, to not be famous is no shame. But if someone gives up a hobby they love because it will not make them money, that is a shame. It's a shame because they are losing a part of who they are and for what? Because they didn't beat the odds? Bah, humbug, I say to that notion. Write because you love it, not because you'll make money at it.

Besides an added benefit to writing is that writing lasts forever. You can do it so long as your mind works. So you'll always have the chance of getting published, unlike the athlete who has about a 5 year span to be a viable professional athlete.


I have to keep telling myself, what I have told others on here.
Don't write with the expectation of fortune and glory, it will be a lot of rejections and disappointments.
Write for your enjoyment and you win every time.

Officially, I have submitted ss to two competitions. Didn't win either, but I still write. Not with the hope of ever getting published, but because I love to create worlds, place good and evil people in difficult situations, and see where it takes me.
(I am a micro planner, I plan the high points and let the little things happen along the way.)

I will offer one hope from a speaker at a library. He was a literary agent. He said 90% of submissions don't make it out of the mail room. Not because of anything else then the writer didn't follow all the submission rules. These rules get rid of most of the submissions. Nothing about the story or writing style, just one or two guidelines were missed. One or two errors and the future LOTR's gets dropped in the recycle bin.

So read lots, write, rewrite, edit, re-edit, polish it, then read the submission guidelines, fix the manuscript, reread the guidelines and be sure everything is right. Then before taking that big step of submission, reread it once more(as a reader or publisher), and check it again for the guidelines. Then send it in and start the next story(or like me pick up the next wip, as currently I have 4 books in progress and one simmering to start.) [Someone said, set the book aside for a few months. So I start a new book.]


toujours gai, archie
Andanotherthing: I don't get to be discouraged until I have written *at least* four novels, have seen them all the way through copyediting, and have submitted them to agents (or self-published) *at least* a dozen times. Plus an intedeterminate number of short stories.

Anything short of that means I haven't really tried yet, so there's no reason to be discouraged. I am anyway, of course, but that's a separate matter!


I think you were going for "deluded fool," unless you've really drunk a lot of water today.

I've no illusions about the likelihood of becoming a successful author--hey, that's just how the world works. There are millions of amazingly intelligent and creative people out there, writing fantastic stories. But even if I knew 100% that I'll never be published, even when I'm forty and have a stack of unpublished novels behind me, I'm going to keep writing. I've been doing it all my life. Nothing plunges me into another world like writing, nothing scratches the itch of "this is the story I want to read" like dreaming up my own stories.

It would be immensely gratifying to have something be published and know that other people have enjoyed what I've written, but if that can't happen during my life, it's not going to stop me from writing for myself--writing for my own entertainment and indulgence, role playing, sharing stories with people around me (like the friend who's hassling me to write more of my WIP so she can find out what happens--she likes it, and that alone is gratifying!) You can't stake your willingness to write on the odds of becoming rich and famous, because not only are they slimmer than a flea's leg, they are also largely out of your control. Realism takes some of the pressure off, doesn't it?
Reaver, I think you have to look at the world through Larry Bird's eyes.

Before the three-point shooting contest at the NBA All-Star game, Bird went into the lockerroom, took one look at the other all-stars and said:

"Which one of you mother****ers is gonna come in second?"

Bird won the contest.

Similarly, tens of thousands may submit somewhere, but only a few dozen will get in--after you.


Article Team
In a lot of things in life, you don't have to be the most talented or skilled. You just have to be the most persistent. Others may have talent and skill, but if they give up, that means you step up a rung in the prospect pool ladder. And if you're in the right place at the right time with the right story, who knows what may happen. But if you've given up before hand, the answer is already known.
The long tail gets longer all the time. If you can't get your story published with Tor, you may still be able to get it published somewhere smaller and less prestigious. If you can't get ten thousand people to read your story, maybe one thousand will, or even one hundred! I wouldn't call myself a "successful" author, but I'm an author who's put out stories that people can buy and read if they want to, and that's decent by my standards.

Caged Maiden

Article Team
I think you have some great ideas...now you just gotta get them on the page and in the hands of some betas, and then start querying. It's a lot of work, but if you stick with it, you'll at least feel better about this journey. I'm in the same boat. I've been editing until my mind turns to much. I'm not sure I'll ever find the right combinations to make a given book successful, but the thing is, at the end of the day, I like writing and I like what i'm producing. So...if no one else loves the stories I write, I'll just have to be happy with my own work. A wise man once said, "F*** the f***ing f***ers."



In my time here at Mythic Scribes, I've seen the work of and gotten to know many incredibly talented writers who deserve to get published but likely never will.

This makes me sad.

Why should it though? Thousands of talented athletes never make it to the big leagues,....

I have to keep telling myself, what I have told others on here.
Don't write with the expectation of fortune and glory, it will be a lot of rejections and disappointments.
Write for your enjoyment and you win every time.


Yes, all those things. I must say two things though......the submission process gets damned tiresome (after almost a quarter century of this and the last six months of extensive submission and rejection I'm about ready to give up on submission and focus ONLY on writing).....and thank goodness for the internet and self-publishing.


Getting traditionally published is a very tough goal to achieve. I recently heard a very senior editor of a major publisher speaking, and he did not have stats, but said he read about 250 debut manuscripts a year, and bought about 2 of them. That may not be a great example because he only accepted agented manuscripts from certain agents, thus he really is only buying the best of the best, however it does show the odds are long. But if that is what you want you have to dig in and go for it.

And like Bird and all the others go for it hard.

Firstly I think you should read the cover article on this site by CM about confidence. She makes a ton of good points and confidence is very important.

Secondly, the advent of the word processor, like the digital camera, has proliferated the number of people who think they can write publishable work (just like it has proliferated the number of people who think they should be able to sell their photos). The hard (but perhaps for you fortunate) truth of it, is that most of those people are wrong or don't work hard enough at the craft of writing to make their manuscript remotely worth a traditional publisher buying. The slush piles have gotten much, much bigger at traditional publishers, but their average quality has not gotten better, many say it has gotten worse. So if you are dedicated to your craft your average competition is not so hot, the problem is getting noticed.

So if you want to be traditionally published you need to hone the crap out of your craft, get a thick skin, do all that stuff that CM talks about in her article, and then start submitting to agents rather than publishers. The number of absolutely successful authors who submitted for years without a sale is very large. You need to be ready for that.

You can also redefine your goals. I find one of the hardest things to do on this site is give advice to people who I don't know what their goals are. If I don't know your goals, how can I really give good advice? If you want to write something to amuse yourself, or are creating a gaming world, my advice is far different than if you want to traditionally publish, or even self-publish with income goals. If you have a goal you can set a path to it and get to work.

To do that you need to know yourself. That is a tough one.

Being a successful traditionally published author is a lofty goal, but I would never discourage anyone from pursuing it.
Self-publishing and networking online with social media etc., will get you exposure and some word of mouth if what you are writing is building a fan base. You can sell your books on amazon, just make sure you put time and effort into making your e-books look professional. Even if you sell it for like $1.99, if you can sell a thousand copies or even five hundred, you still are getting your work out there to an audience. With the fantasy genre I think word of mouth can be very powerful. Promote your finished works on different writing websites, fantasy fan sites, etc. You just have to do the online version of legwork.

Also the competition for e-books with other starting writers can be to your advantage, as there is a lot of amateurish garbage out there flooding the market. Good work will stand out.
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All I can really say is... Keep going. Write because you love it, but if you want to be published all you can do is keep submitting or work on self publication. As much as I want to kick in the teeth of the guy who said "Do you remember that guy who quit? Neither does anyone else," I think there's a certain truth to it. We'll all inevitably get discouraged, but at the end of it if it's a dream worth having it's a dream worth fighting for.

But yeah. In the mean time keep writing because you can't do anything else but write - because it makes you happy - because it fills that void - what ever your reasons. You started writing for a reason that was presumably not "fame and fortune." Keep writing for that reason.

Something I do to cheer myself up is I look at an author who's work I think is hilariously bad and I just think to myself, "Hey, if they can get publish I can get published.

L M Rush

What an interesting thread, Personally I've seen two or three people who's (intros) books are real easy to read, and I've only been here a few hours. Now when I go to the library and pull out three random fantasy books, at least two of those are unreadable.

I know for a fact I'm not the strongest writer, but I have a creative mind and some great characters to exploit. I work with somebody who released a 50 shades of greyesque book a couple of years ago, self published, and she now goes to book signings and has 3000+ people who have read (and enjoyed) her book. If I could achieve that, and more, I'd be satisfied.

PS her book isn't that great, but she put in the work and went for it, and 3000 people think I'm wrong. So, who knows.


Reaver, I think most of us around here feel your pain. I often ask myself if all of this is even worth it. I have been blogging basically to dead space since forever now. I don't have a following of people who like my stories--err--no one knows I exist as a writer. I'll be self-publishing some shorts within the next few months spread out...and I'm terrified.

What if everyone hates my work? What if I don't make any money? Bla bla...totally stricken by fear.

All I can say is that yes, this is a brutal road filled with uncertainty. But you'll get more out of it if you keep trying. I think that we all get heads swollen with dreams of the way things should be for us because we are writers, but the reality is that we just have to carve out our little niche. You'll get there. If I die someday with only 100 devoted fans, I would consider that a success in this business. Best of luck to you!
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....and remember many artists (and writers) died without being discovered and still changed the world -- Vincent van Gogh for example.

what if he'd given up early on and never painted Starry Night or Wheat Field with Crows???


Myth Weaver
The underlying message sent on this board a lot of the time is that you should write for your own enjoyment because you're not likely to succeed as an author - traditionally published or indie.

I don't know much about the traditional part, but I'm not sure that it's that hard to find some degree of success on the indie side of things. There seem to be a lot of people making real money out there. I look at their stuff, and there's nothing they're producing that any of us couldn't produce.

I think that we absolutely can succeed.

Now, I don't think it's necessarily easy. You have to:

1. Figure out how to write something that people want to read.
2. Actually write something that people want to read.
3. Figure out how to get that something in front of the people who want to read it.
4. Actually get that something in front of the people who want to read it.
5. Repeat.
6. Repeat a lot.
7. Don't give up.

None of those steps are easy, but I think they can be accomplished.