For many years, new authors have struggled with innocence. Filled with hopes and dreams, the reality of the publishing industry can become too much to bear. In today's world with a thriving community of agents, editors, and and fellow authors on the internet, authors often struggle from the opposite extreme. They know the challenge of publishing; they know the odds their facing; and it can seem impossible. Gary Corby, well-received debut author with Minotaur, was kind enough to describe how he himself, as an internet-savvy and industry-wise author, was able to fend off pessimism:
I love your phrase, "the pursuit of publication has dark moments." I'd say when you query, it's one long dark moment, with only a tiny spot of light in the far-off distance, towards which you stumble, and unfortunately, the light's an oncoming locomotive.
I'm fairly sure every single published writer went through a depressed period, totally convinced that they and their book were doomed. This is only rational, because on the odds, they were doomed! It's a sometimes quoted statistic on the nets that agents receive 10,000 queries a year, from which they will sign perhaps 1 or 2 writers. If anything, I'd suggest that is slightly optimistic.
I was aware of these depressing numbers long before an agent showed any interest in me, but that didn't stop me querying, and it shouldn't stop you. You have to push through those numbers. But don't ignore them; instead, use them to make your book better. What I did was this: behind me as I write are shelves with a few thousand books. As I worked through my manuscript, from time to time I would pull down one of my favourite books and read a few pages. Was my own work at least as good as this published book? If the answer was no, I went back to work. Because you are not competing against those other 9,999 hopefuls. You are competing against yourself, to be as good as the books you love.
Corby's first book is Pericles Commission, now available in the US and available in his native Australia on 4 January 2011. His second novel is slated for release in the US in October/November 2011.
Corby writes historical mysteries set in Ancient Greece, told with authenticity and a vibrant wit.
In case you missed the first entry in this series of authors' detailing how they faced and overcame the challenges of publishing, please see this: RJ Ellory.