While surfing around publishing sites, I came across some interesting numbers.Â Don’t know howÂ accurate they are.Â But they do make you think.Â And fret.
First number:(from the website “Making Light”)
Â â€œ172,000 books published last yearâ€ is neither reliable nor pertinent if youâ€™re talking about bookstore shelf space. â€œAll books publishedâ€ includes books youâ€™ll never see in a bookstore at all, like manuals for operating and maintaining equipment, industry trade guides, and family genealogies.
Even if you limit the number to â€œtrade booksâ€â€”i.e., books that get bookstore distributionâ€”the number is hard to pin down. A lot of university press and regional press titles get distributed to a handful of bookstores. Are they trade books? Those authors and those publishers would say yes, and I canâ€™t see any good reason to contradict them, at least not to their faces. Still, thereâ€™s a big difference between books offered for sale at a handful of bookstores, and books offered for sale at bookstores everywhere.
If youâ€™re talking about new titles that would come through a large urban bookstore in a single year, one rough but reliable estimate Iâ€™ve been given (by a source that declined to be named) is that itâ€™s about 10,000 titles.
So if your bookÂ is released byÂ a mainstream publisher, your competition in the bookstores is only 9.999 other titles. Not 171,999.Â
And the secondÂ numberÂ concerns writer incomes (in the UK):
“Most book manuscripts end up unwanted and unread on publishers’ and agents’ slush piles, and the majority of those that do make it into print sell fewer than 1,000 copies. So while there are a small number of writers making a decent living, something like 80% of published authors earn less than Â£10,000 per year. “
Takes some of the glamor out of the profession a bit, doesn’t it?