NEW ICE INDEX TELLS ASPIRING AUTHORS WHEN TO GIVE UP

Hopeful authors submitting work to agents are used to receiving numbing rejections, ranging from cold to arctic in their lack of enthusiasm. Now one writer has devised a formula to help wannabe authors know at what point to stop flogging a dead horse and put their submission into deep freeze. Dubbed the ICE Index, the formula measures the degrees of Indifference, Condescension and Encouragement shown towards book pitches by literary agents.

Paul Carroll, himself the recipient of numerous rejections for his books from the publishing trade, devised the formula and is confident it will save many hours of wasted time and unnecessary stress for writers hoping to get discovered. The formula, I ÷ C x E2, measures the number of non-replies divided by stock rejection messages received, adjusted for any personal messages or comment received from an agent. If the total is zero or below zero, it’s time for the writer to pack it in, start working on a new book, or take up gardening as a hobby instead.

According to Carroll, the formula works no matter how many submission letters are factored into the equation. ‘Too many aspiring authors think that just by sending out their manuscript to more and more agents somehow they’ll succeed. The opposite it true. They need to know when to give up and move on. ICE will help them in this regard, and I dare say be welcome by literary agents if it sees less books being pitched their way.’

Many literary agents claim to receive as many as 5,000 submissions a year. Of those, maybe 1-2% will stimulate interest, giving new writers daunting odds on success. Carroll, whose latest novel, Written Off, satirises the publishing industry, blames J K Rowling for wannabe authors’ misplaced optimism. ‘ Everybody knows Harry Potter was rejected one hundred times before getting a book deal and that’s why a number of writers refuse to accept the inevitable. But that’s like saying a 100-1 outsider won the Grand National once.’

A literary agent was unavailable for comment.

 

ICE examples

I ÷ C x E2

 

10 x submissions

I (4 x no replies) ÷ C (5 x standard rejection letters) x E (1 x personal note squared)

4 ÷ 5 x 1 = 0.8

 

10 x submissions

I (3 x no replies) ÷ C (5 x standard rejection letters) x E (2 x personal notes squared)

3 ÷ 5 x 4 = 2.4

 

20 x submissions

I (8 x no replies) ÷ C (12 x standard rejection letters) x E (0 x personal notes squared)

8 ÷ 12 x 0 = 0

 

20 x submissions

I (7 x no replies) ÷ C (11 x standard rejection letters) x E (2 x personal notes squared)

7 ÷ 11 x 4 = 2.54