1. Baller Dale
    Offline

    Baller Dale Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0

    Are these figures regarding books being published true?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Baller Dale, Jan 30, 2012.

    Obviously you won't know the exact numbers, but I've read that the amount of finished projects being published is less than 1%.

    Do you think that's false? And do those kind of 'statistics' make you think twice about writing novels?
     
  2. Balmarog
    Offline

    Balmarog Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2008
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maine
    I've heard that only about 1% of people who start writing a book will ever finish, but I'm not sure about only 1% of all finished products being published...
     
  3. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,059
    Likes Received:
    5,263
    Location:
    California, US
    I haven't seen any hard numbers on it, but that figure certainly wouldn't surprise me. Think of the number of people out there who want to be writers, traditionally published, with their books on a shelf in the store. Then think about the number of people who actually achieve it. It wouldn't be a surprise if only 1% of those who finish a work make it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    That number makes sense to me. After all, publishers only have a certain amount of resources to spend, so they're naturally going to be picky about choosing what to publish. I'm sure that statistic is much higher if you include self-publishing.
     
  5. joanna
    Offline

    joanna Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Boston
    I don't know, but it doesn't seem unrealistic. Imagine all the people in all the world right now who've written stories; imagine how many rooms all those stories could fill. Bookstores could never be that massive.
     
  6. Kitty08
    Offline

    Kitty08 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    I never really thought about it, but yes, 1% makes sense. It would be interesting to see an actual figure for that--say, out of (just picking a random number here) ten thousand manuscripts submitted to publishers every month, maybe five to ten are published, or whatever.
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I seem to remember reading something about this several years ago, and as I recall, the number then was somewhere in the low single digits - maybe 2% or 3%. But I believe that was books submitted directly to publishers ("over the transom"). Still, it doesn't surprise me. After all, even among people who finish a project, there will be a significant percentage whose writing either contains errors in spelling and grammar (which is an immediate rejection) or in other ways has not been completely edited. Among the remaining writers, there will be a significant percentage who have fallen into errors of style (rejection). Then there will be those who insisted (as we sometimes see in these forums) that "there is no one right way to write" which is true but is also sometimes turned into "there is no wrong way to write" (rejection). There will be some whose work is predicated on the assumption that it is the first in a ten part series (rejection). And there will be some whose work is fine, but who have failed to identify the agent who is looking for that kind of story or publisher who publishes that genre (rejection). Finally, there will be the right agent, the right publisher, but for some reason, the publisher feels that particular work won't sell at that particular time. Rejection.

    That's why a good writer needs not only talent, but thick skin and determination.
     
  8. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    I have no idea of the true percentage but that sounds like it's in the right ball park. Most agents will reject at least ninety percent of what they get sent by hopefuls, sometimes because it's of poor quality sometimes because it's simply non-commercial. And I imagine that even agents bringing their clients' work to publishers will be turned down more often then not. Just having an agent won't guarantee anything.

    The real question for me though, is how many people out there, have written, rewritten and will rewrite their book again, all with the dream maybe of seeing it in a bookshop, but have never and will never take the step of trying to publish it? That is a big step and I suspect many do not have the courage to take it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Worse than that, where i come from, out of 1000 novel ms submitted to the publishers from previously non-published writers (here we don't go through agents) only 1 is accepted for publication. Of course they receive a couple thousands a year, but that's still incredibly few.
     
  10. TDFuhringer
    Offline

    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    589
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Somewhere South of Midnight
    I'm trying to find the article but... I was reading submission guidelines at an agent's site and they said 'we receive over 100,000 queries per year but only publish 30 to 40 books'. Those are some scary numbers.
     
  11. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    I'd be surprised if it was as many as 1%, to be honest. An agent may receive 10,000 submissions a year, and take on only 3 new clients. But the fact is that most people who think they can write really can't, just as most X Factor hopefuls cannot sing. About 50% of submissions to agents will go straight in the bin because they are horrendous shite. Another 30% are passably written enough to get a cursory glance and then a 'hmm, no thanks'. 15% will get a more detailed read and then maybe some feedback. 4% might get feedback and an invitation to resubmit after reworking it. Then there's the 0.9% that get offered representation, and the 0.1% that actually gets a publishing deal.*

    * Please note that these statistics are estimated. i.e. pulled out my ass.
     
  12. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Screw the statistics. They can only serve to discourage and really serve little purpose in making your work better besides possibly being a motivator to do your best. (With the risk of making you so stressed out that your work actually suffers.) Who knows. With the age of the e-book on the horizon, those figures may change. Statistics always seem cold to me and I'd be curious to know what it considers "finished." So again, screw the statistics.
     
  13. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    Statistics are irrelevant. They deal with numbers, not individuals.

    Next time you think something's a long shot, think of the probability that you exist in order to have that thought. Then consider the probability that, out of all the space and time in the universe, you are where you are, who you are, what you are, when you are. The probability that you exist is next to nothing. The probability that you exist here, now, is considerably smaller than that. The probability that every microbe is where it is? Don't even go there. Something incomprehensively small. But here you are.

    Getting a book in print doesn't look like such a tall order now, does it? ;)
     
    3 people like this.
  14. TDFuhringer
    Offline

    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    589
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Somewhere South of Midnight
    Best post of the day. +1 rep :D
     
  15. jc.
    Offline

    jc. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Hawaii
    I THIRD this. I stopped believing in statistics a long time ago. If I believed in statistics I wouldn't have gotten married, because I'd believe that I'd divorce. But no, I have control over my outcome. I make my marriage work despite the divorce rate for Navy families being even worse than regular marriages.

    You can make your dream come true if you keep working at it.
     
  16. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Given the number of published books I read that contain errors in spelling and grammar (and not subtle stuff -- there/their/they're type blunders), I'm not convinced it's immediate rejection. Particularly since a published friend of mine recently blogged on how much the copy editing provided by his publisher improved his books. Sure, bad spelling and grammar will count against you -- everything else will have to be so much better to keep the commissioning editor's attention -- but it's survivable.
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Statistics should not be blindly accepted, but saying they are irrelevent is hiding your head in the sand. Writers should pay attention to the degree they don't have unrealistic expectations.

    The sad fact is most submitted manuscripts are utter crap. No one takes up writing believing they lack the skills to write well enough to publish. All new writers have a great deal to learn before their writing will be up to professional standards, and the vast majority have neither the patience nor the commitment to develop the skill.

    Making matters worse are the scam artists who flatter new writers and convince them their work "just needs a little work", for which they will gladly provide tutelage - for a price. The writer's improvements always fall short, and the helpful "agent" eventually vanishes with a full bank account, if the student hasn't given up first.

    So keep your expectations realistic, and be aware of all the crud you are competing against. With all the litter box liner out there, even a decent manuscript can easily escape detection. Wishing won't change that. Persistence is the only way, and a refusal to get discouraged.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. TDFuhringer
    Offline

    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    589
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Somewhere South of Midnight
    I read an article once where a writer interviewed agents and publishers and asked, "What's the biggest mistake new authors make?" and the response was unanimous.

    Not following the submission guidelines to the letter.

    Sometimes work with grammatical errors gets by, all kinds of things get published, work that was submitted correctly. If you want to increase your chances of getting someone to actually read your submission and take it seriously, do exactly what they say. Every pro interviewed in the article said the one immediate grounds for rejection is when a query or a submission has failed to follow one of the guidelines. You don't even get thrown in the slush pile. It's an immediate rejection, because the implication is you aren't professional enough to follow the rules and respect the agent/publishers needs and time.

    I've gone off on a tangent. Sorry. Carry on. :)
     
  19. TDFuhringer
    Offline

    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    589
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Somewhere South of Midnight
    This. 100%
     
  20. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Checking expectations shouldn't be contingent on statistics. That should be a case with life regardless. If the number were 10% or 5%, or even 50%, that still doesn't equal a guarantee. If somebody needs hard statistics to tell them that the writing field is tough, then they probably aren't ready to publish yet. And being aware of pitfalls also seems something irrelevant to statistics. Statistics about publishing odds don't really do anything to the writer but discourage them. It's an unnecessary obstacle. Statistics seem to be good fodder for shock-value news articles but most of them do little for the average person, and these seem no different. (I remember a college professor stating that only 1 in 5 of us would finish college with at least a C. And that's supposed to do, what exactly?) Statistics mean nothing more than the meaning people attach to them. And heck, statistics can probably even create a lot of self-fulfilling prophesies.

    So in this case, yeah, don't go in expecting every manuscript you submit to get published. Have realistic expectations. But statistics like "only one percent of finished books will ever get published" do nothing more than crush persistence and create discouragement. So again, screw statistics. I'll save statistics for those who need proof for a research paper.
     
  21. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    I wish I had written all of that. In fact, is it too late to claim I did and Cogito ripped me off? :D
     
  22. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Ah, the post-facto fallacy! Giving hope to people who don't understand statistics since time immemorial.
     
  23. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    Did you know that 40% of all statistics are made up on the spot? :D
     
  24. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    Agreed.
     
  25. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Multiply that percentage by a factor of 2.49 if the statistic is being stated by a politician.
     

Share This Page