Once I have an agent, how likely am I to be published? Do you have any books that you really like, but just can’t sell?
This is a great question and one that I’m surprised I haven’t addressed yet. In fact, just the other day I was mentally going through the list of some of my clients, processing those I sold, those I never sold, and those I sold but it wasn’t the first book I went out with. Frankly, I really thought that the numbers of those I sold but not the first book we went out with was going to be a lot higher than it was.
Here is an entirely unscientific look at my own facts and figures. And keep in mind these are just a random selection of my clients over the years and not necessarily everyone. For example, I only looked at fiction and didn’t include those clients who came to me with a book deal in hand.
- Sold first book: 9 clients (and in all cases have sold multiple books, sometimes to multiple publishers)
- Sold later works: 5 clients
- Haven’t yet sold: 5 clients that I could think of off the top of my head, but 3 of them disappeared after the first book didn’t sell and 2 of them I have all the confidence in the world we’ll be selling very soon.
So to answer your question, there is no guarantee that you’ll be selling that first book an agent takes on, but if you stick with it and work with your agent there is a very, very good chance you will sell. I think that 14 sales out of 19 clients are pretty good odds. That’s nearly a 75% sell rating, and I know that I’ll be able to shift those figures around as long as those clients keep writing.
One of the things I did notice was how much persistence played into it. Those clients who only gave me one chance (they never sent me a second book) had lower odds of getting published. But those who were willing to stick with me, as I was willing to stick with them, were likely to get a book deal. Remember, I take on a client for her voice, not a book. If I love your writing I will do everything in my power to find a place to get it published. In fact, I took on a new client earlier this year (February, I think) and while we weren’t able to sell that book, I just made a three-book deal for her for something new, different, and, more important, something she’s excited about writing.
Oh, but to answer your last question, yes, absolutely. I have definitely had books that I can’t stop thinking about. In fact, one of them is being reworked right now and we’re going to sell the dang thing if it kills me, because I love that book.