The publishing industry is a surprisingly SLOW industry, even in this modern day and age. For those of you wanting to "break in" here are some things to keep in mind: First, you have to write something that can and will sell. Most good authors take (literally) years to write their books. The books often go through three to four re-writes before the author is confident enough to submit it to agents.
Then you have to write the perfect sales pitch to get an agent to look at your book. Finding an agent can take months, and even years, as well. (Especially if the work you have written isn't "Main Stream" at the time of your submission.) During that time you are sending out your book to agents, you are also getting rejection after rejection. Although they are all as nice as possible about it, sometimes it s hard to take rejection. (Especially after your 100th rejection letter.) But if you believe enough in your book, you keep going. If the book is anything worth anything, you will eventually find an agent. After that the agent and his/her team review the book and make editing adjustments and put together a sales package to submit to publishers. This can take a few months, because you are not the only one they are doing this for.
Once the agent is ready, they begin submitting to publishers. In the world of publishing there are only a select number of publishers that have been around long enough and are worth their salt to be "top tier" publishers. This means that EVERYONE submits to this group first. Which means that these guys get A LOT of submissions. After the publisher gets your book, you are looking at another three to four months for them to let you know if they want to read the whole book, or if they are rejecting representation. If they take it, you are looking at another six to eight weeks before they offer a deal or reject.
If they reject you at any point the process starts all over again!
Then once you get a publisher to sign, there is no telling how long it will take to actually publish the book. Most publishers only accept three or four new authors a year and as a new author you are on the bottom of the "importance" list. (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, if you are good, you will keep working and move your way up the list, as is only right. Nonetheless, this is where you are starting out until you prove your mettle.)
Eventually, if you are lucky, your book will be published.
Now for those of you keeping track, this is a minimum four year commitment. And the average starting commission for a first book deal is anywhere from $500 (No joke, saw where a children's book writer was offered this amount!) to $30,000. This varies from publisher to publisher and is based on how well they think your book will sell within the first one to two years.
After the advnace is recovered, the publisher will pay royalty rights (an average of 15% to 18%) quarterly on any additional income derived from the book. Don't forget that you have to pay your agent out of that.
Then you get to start the whole process all over again. (Although they say it takes less time the more you are published.)
So why do we do it? Well, that is the topic for next week!