I read this morning that out of 1.2 million book published in 2007 only 25,000 sold more than 5000 copies.
200,00 sold less than 1000 copies and 950 000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
In the UK the average salary of a writer is £4000.

I just wondered how many crime spacers knew these ststs when they started out and if they would have bothered had they known?
HB x

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Well, most of us signed up for baseball or some other sport as kids and although we may have dreamed about playing in the majors, we knew by a fairly early age we wouldn't. Some of us still play in oldtimers leagues.

I guess we do it because we love it.
I don't look at writing as something to make money from solely. I have always written because I have to. It makes my life better. it makes me happier (most of the time). I can't imagine what I'd do if I didn't write. So, whether I sell 500 copies or 500000, I imagine I'll just keep doing it.
I'm aware of those numbers. Yes, they are shocking. Won't stop me writing though.

But here's another thing: if publishers publish so many books that essentially don't sell, what have they done wrong? One wonders if a) they were sufficiently selective, and b) gave their chosen authors enough support to make them known to the customers. Promotion, in other words, until the brand is established. Not the other way around: no promotion until the book (miraculously) breaks through and doesn't need it any more.
I think those numbers are also scewed to include self-published books. It would be interesting to know the number of fiction titles published by traditional press (as opposed to PODs).

About knowing how difficult it was before I started, yeah, of course. When I started I never really expected to get published. It was just something I needed to do, and getting published just started happening along the way.
Well, the numbers are skewed for all kinds of things - textbooks, how-to books, kids picture books, on and on. What might be interesting (though wouldn't change how I feel about what I'm doing) would be to see the stats for just fiction titles, or even for just mystery/crime titles. And the print runs. In Canada a 1000 or 2000 book print run is common, so selling 500 copies is expected.

And as for promotion, it really is hit and miss. We see it a lot more publicy when Hollywood releases a hugely promoted big-budget flop, but it happens in the book business, too. There was an article a couple weeks ago showing the books that sold for huge amounts at the London Book Fair, got huge promo and then sold very few copies. You know, if they could, publishers would only publish five books a year and put all their promotion behind them, but the truth is, out of any twenty books - (almost) regardless of the promotion, it's impossible to pick the one that will hit a nerve with readers.
Seems like I read somewhere that the numbers on adult fiction were somewhere around 27,000 titles out of the total for whatever the year reported was. I don't know how that divides out, though, as to what was published by the print houses and what was self published.
My first short story gets submitted this weekend. Writing is something I have wanted to do for a very long time and I finally kicked myself in the butt and got started. I know that my chances of making a career out of it are only a little better than my chances of becoming a professional golfer. Golf I like, writing I must do. But I am also keeping my day job.
Interesting that everyone knew the odds and wrote anyway. I think it says a lot about why we do it - almost an imperative.
HB x
Or, we're kind of a damaged bunch ;-)
Most creative people are self-delusional because a) they make up stories in their head, and b) they have to be. The odds of making it in music, art, drama, writing are ridiculously high — we know that — yet those of us who want to make it our career still believe we can be one of the chosen ones to break through. If we didn't believe that, we would have to live with the sad fact that we should accept that our day jobs are the best we can do. Ask an unemployed actor in L.A. or New York what he/she does for a living, and even if he hasn't had a gig in months, he will tell you that he's an actor. I don't believe most writers have the same level of self-esteem as actors, but in our hearts we all know that even if our paychecks say plumber, journalist, short-order cook, etc., we are really writers.
When I get discouraged by the numbers and the risk-benefit ratio, I always ask myself: And what are you going to do with your free time if you stop writing? Watch TV? Knit? I don't think so.
I don't really care about the numbers because I can't influence them. I can only do what I can do and do it to the best of my abilities.
As others have said, I'm not sure how useful or accurate those numbers are. It's easy to look at them and feel daunted but they're too inclusive to be entirely relevant. We could just as easily look at statistics for accidental deaths (traffic accidents, planes, spider bites) and decide never to leave the house. Or invest in a state-of-the-art bubble.

We all have the urge to copulate create, some of us just can't get past the feeling of doing it with words.


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