I was looking at the question --
What are the odds of getting published?
And the answer, of course, is that if you write a super manuscript that makes folks laugh and cry and forget to feed the hamster,
the odds are very good indeed.
Which is an answer not so much brimming with The Useful, is it?
. . . Since it's hard to figure out how to write such a manuscript and if you know the secret would you please share it with me.
But when folks ask, 'What are the odds?'
They are really asking --
"Do I have a chance of getting published?
Is this is a wild, impossible dream
or hard but doable?
Is getting published like the odds of getting struck by lighning, or more like the odds of playing professional football, or is it an abducted-by-aliens thing, or what?
Answering in a simple, literal manner ... I'd point to here where a reader for a literary agent looks at 'hundreds and hundreds' of slushpile submissions to find two writers who can be signed.
Not so good odds, overall.
Trying to be helpful, I could go on to talk about football tryouts and being 6'6", 280 lbs and spending 40 hours a week thumping heads.
Or about standing on high ridges in thunderstorms holding a long metal pole.
I don't feel so competent addressing the whole abducted-by-aliens scenario.
But let's say I riff on the unspoken question.
Which is -- 'What are MY chances?'
It is very hard to get published. There's a lot of competition.
--You have to be persistent. (This is in your control.)
--You have to work your butt off. (This is in your control.)
--You have to learn your craft. (This is in your control.)
--You are more likely to succeed if you consciously produce something in a marketable field. (This is in your control.)
--You have to write better than what is on the shelves. (This is only partially in your control.)
-- You need an innate ability to write. (This is not in your control.)
--You have to be lucky. (This is not in your control.)
Maybe, 'What are the odds?' is not a useful question.
'How can I improve the odds?' is.