Whether you're most interested in writing articles and short stories for magazines, or novels for book publishers, the economy may have discouraged you from submitting your work. And in a way, waiting to submit your work may have made sense. Let me explain why…
The past year or so has taken a toll on writers, editors and literary agents. I've noticed a lot of writers, veterans as well as newbies, struggling to sell their stories, and I was among them. It seemed more difficult than ever to interest editors in buying work, and for those of us writing books, it was equally hard to get an agent to agree to represent us. Part of the reason was that editors were getting laid off, and no one felt sure they'd still have a job six months down the road! So acquiring editors stopped buying, and agents grew frustrated when well-written manuscripts they'd submitted were repeatedly rejected. At one point near the end of last year and beginning of this one, one agent told me she wasn't submitting anything for fear of "burning bridges". She intended to wait until the market revived, then she'd send out again.
The good news now is, I'm seeing signs of things loosening up. Following Publisher's Marketplace (an online site), and checking in with various authors' loops, it appears that sales are picking up. And after finding a wonderful and supportive new agent, Kevan Lyon with MarsalLyon Literary Agency, I've sold a book I'd been researching and working on for four years, THE GENTLEMAN POET (a novel set in the early 17th century that features Shakespeare among its characters) to editors at William Morrow/Avon, whose editors are very enthusiastic about its potential for sales. So if you've sometimes felt intimidated about submitting your work for publication… now might be an excellent time to plunge in and begin sending out your material.
The truth about getting and staying published is this: It has always been a challenge, and will always be a challenge. But editors and agents need books to stay in business. And after holding off from purchasing new stories for months, editors are hungry for strong writing to fill their lists of new novels in 2010 and 2011. Why shouldn't your book be one of those they choose? Submit. Letting your stories sit in the closet won't get them to your readers. Happy writing -- Kathryn