1. Struggling writer rakes up astronomical school loans to achieve BA, MFA, attend workshops, etc.
2. Struggling writer sends hundreds of submissions out to small presses and waits to hear back from them. For six months to a year. No simultaneous submissions.
3. After a couple of handfulls of the S.W.’s pieces are published for free in literary magazines, the writer goes shopping (begging) for an agent.
4. Agent finds a few paying gigs for the S.W., while the writer keeps writing. At this point, the S.W. may actually be able to quit one of his three full-time jobs.
5. More publishing, more money, time to upgrade to an agent with better connections (repeat begging from step 3).
6. The years fly past, and the S.W. is graying at the temples. Agent finally has a publisher who “shows interest” in the book.
7. Publisher picks up the book, offers advance, S.W. finally pays off school loans.
8. Struggling writer is now on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and such, where he makes the rounds signing books and hopes for university speaking gigs.
Here’s how it works now: