Short answer: you don’t know what you mean by “make it.”
- Do you mean get an agent?
You can get an agent. This country is CHOCK FULL TO BURSTING right this moment with brand new, chomping-at-the-bit, frothing-at-the-mouth, starving agents. People who should not have been allowed to learn to type in the first place are going to get agents.
Good news for everyone out there who’s decided becoming an author is easier than learning a useful trade and earning an honest living! Not, you know, that that attitude’s going to earn you any kind of living at all, but, yes, it can sometimes get you represented.
- Do you mean get a publisher?
You can get a publisher. Of course, what you actually get is a publisher’s acquisitions editor, which is slightly different, considering most editors when they’re hired these days receive not so much a desk chair as a revolving door disguised as a chair, designed to whirl them around and fling them out a nearby open window at their boss’ whim.
I just read Susan Orlean’s great post on how she went through some eight editors and four publishers with only her first book.
This is going to be news to the unpublished among you: not all books that get acquired get published, and the de-publication of a book often has absolutely nothing to do with the book itself. I’ve got horror stories. If you’re published, you’ve probably got horror stories. Everyone’s got horror stories.
(But maybe you LIKE horror stories!)
- Do you mean get a publisher who will actually publish your book?
Like agents, micro-publishers are popping up everywhere, mushrooms straight out of the rich, fruity loam of certain rotting underpinnings of the publishing industry. And even before the recent burst in micro-publishing, there were all sorts of small indie publishers desperate for some general words on a page and a writer willing to sign away all rights to them.
You can get someone to publish your book. You might not even have to pay them. Much.
- Do you mean get a publisher who will pay you for your book?
Surprisingly enough, some very nice advances sometimes go out to the authors of some really crappy shlock. Even newbie authors of really crappy shlock. Even inexperienced newbie authors of really crappy shlock.
You know what happens after that? The shlock doesn’t earn the very nice advance back. Then there’s a big cat-fight down at the publisher’s office, with everyone pointing fingers and calling names, voices get shrill, feet stomp, and eventually someone slaps someone else in the face with a kid glove, and the next thing you know they’re yanking off their jackets and choosing their seconds. And the author?
Yeah, no matter who wins the duel, nobody ever speaks to THAT loser again.
- Do you mean get a publisher smart enough to only pay what the book earns back?
Geez, you’re taking all the fun out of advances!
- Do you mean get a publisher who can purvey your fledgling efforts into an on-going profitable venture?
That’d be nice, wouldn’t it? Book after book after book, pretty little checks coming in the mail from your agent every quarter, a cozy little savings account all for them, signing your name with an authorial flourish while the other banktellers lean toward your lucky teller’s cage and watch with tiny gasps of awe.
And it will be a savings account, just so you know. You’ll still have to work a real job to pay your bills.
- Do you mean earn a living by writing?
That’d be even nicer, all those authorial flourishes AND you get to spend all day every day in your office under the eaves, polishing your keyboard and mapping out your next baby and pausing, when inspiration fails you, to trim your toenails and think about asking your agent to renegotiate your contract.
You understand, of course, you won’t be living in New York City, where real estate is a tad pricey. Or, in all likelihood, New York State. Or even the Eastern seaboard. Or the Western seaboard. Or the United States. Or probably the industrialized world. And that includes Thailand.
But hey, it would still be a great way to live, wouldn’t it? And I hear the tsi-tsi flies don’t carry nearly as many life-threatening diseases in the African bush as they used to.
- Do you mean make a fortune writing?
. . .so you can live wherever you like, write about whatever you like, walk through the world flanked on all sides by groupies and flunkies rolling a red carpet under your feet just before you step, fanning you with ostrich feathers and peeling your grapes and hanging on the pearls of wisdom that drop regular as clockwork from your ruby-red lips?
I’M SO SORRY.
My job’s already taken.
(More tragically, since the decline of the literary novel this actually happens with some very beautiful, very classy literature indeed. And that’s something I don’t even want to talk about.)