You have likely heard stories of publishers turning down books that later went on to become bestsellers. There are also tales of agents who missed seeing a book’s potential, only to be proven wrong when someone else made it a success. These accounts prove that having a book published with a traditional publisher is far from an exact science.
There are four variables to land a book deal. To find a traditional publisher, you need to have the right book, pitched by the right agent, to the right publisher, at the right time. That means you must have a well-written, interesting book, an agent who loves it, a publisher who will get behind it, and for all this to happen at the ideal time.
Furthermore, for any book to achieve success, whether traditionally published or self-published, the right set of circumstances must occur. These include a myriad of things, such as current events, the economy, the mood of buyers, competing titles, the weather, and so forth.
Most of these things are completely outside the control of writers. The one thing we can affect is the content of the book. As a writer, we determine whether a book is merely good or great, boring or interesting, similar to everything else or unique. Our job as writers is simply to produce the best book we possibly can.
That’s what our focus should be; the other things are mostly outside of our control.