1. There are 3000 books published in the world each day.
I wrote this down, circled it, and then sat and wondered if I’d heard right. So, today, I did some googling, and, although I didn’t find that statistic repeated, found a variety of answers to this one. One source stated a new book is published every half hour in the US alone. Another source stated 1 million books a year worldwide – which, when divided by the 365 days in the year comes close to that 3000 mark. Of course it’s not possible to know the exact figure, but what is known that there are many many books published every day. Good news in that the more books that are published the more chance you have of being the author of one of them. Bad news in that if you are the author of one of them, you have to compete with 2999 other titles for purchasers, bookstore shelf space, media attention and so on.
2. In Australia about 350 children’s books are published each year.
My first reaction – how am I ever going to read them all? My second reaction – that’s almost one new title every day. And my third, is to think that whilst that’s a good number, that explains why there are so many writers struggling for publication. When I think about it I know at least a hundred other Australian children’s authors either directly or indirectly through organisations like SCWI, networking groups, newsletters, classes etc. If there were only 350 children’s authors in Australia then that might be one book each (yes I know it doesn’t work like that but I’m just playing with numbers here). Are there only 350 people who write (or want to write) and how many of us are happy with just one book per year, especially when we’re trying to make a living from the business? No wonder acceptances are hard to come by.
3. About 20 per cent of books sold in Australia are children’s titles.
My first reaction – that’s excellent. My second reaction – how come the bookstores don’t devote 20% of their floor and shelf space to children’s books? And if one in five of their customers is going to be looking for children’s books, why are those books so often hidden in the furthest, darkest corner of the shop?
4. One publisher at the conference receives 3000 (yes, that’s three thousand) manuscripts every year. From these submissions, they publish 80 or 90 books per year.
My reaction: Gosh – the odds are very slim. My calculator tells me that’s about one in thirty three manuscripts that gets published. Not good odds. And, in reality, if you are submitting an unsolicited manuscript into what is so nicely referred to as a slush pile, your odds are probably less than one in thirty three, simply because many of those ninety would be from authors already working with the publisher or known to the publisher, or working through agents.
So, depressing statistics? I have to admit although the actual numbers surprised me a little, I’d long known how hard it was to get published in Australia (and, I suppose, the rest of the world), so no the figures didn’t (and don’t) depress me. I do wish though that more aspiring writers could be told these figures so they would realise what they’re up against. Not so that they can be discouraged, but so they can be realistic. I meet so many new writers who are convinced everything they write will be just snapped up by a desperate publisher. I was once like that myself. When it doesn’t work out that way many become dispirited or convinced there is some plot against them. No, there isn’t a plot. Publishers do want to publish books and do want to discover new writers, too.
The reality is that if you want to get published you need to know those odds and work with them. Know the market. Know who is publishing what, which editor wants want. Make your work the best it can be and ensure that it stands out from the rest. Make it so brilliant, so well polished, so fine tuned that a publisher just can’t resist.
Easier said than done, but something to aim for. I’ll let you know when I get there.