I am preparing some information for a talk I'm giving later this week to the local Rotary Club. Actually, 'talk' is a misnomer. I'm just going to chat about my publishing experience. But to prepare for it, I decided to try to research some actual statistics about the whole publishing business.
This information comes from assorted blog posts by agents and editors. It can’t be taken as ‘gospel’ but it gives you a feeling for the publishing business.
- Most editors receive 15-25 submissions a week. Many editors will not read anything unless it’s forwarded to them from an agent.
- An editor will find 1 manuscript every 2-3 weeks that she thinks has promise. She has to get buy-in from other editors, so she’ll send it to colleagues.
- If no one else likes it, it’s rejected.
- If others like it but the editorial director doesn’t, it’s rejected
- An editor will usually buy 1 book every 4-8 weeks out of the 160 or so that she reads.
- Most books in the ‘slush’ pile (unsolicited manuscripts sent by authors with no agent) are never purchased or even read completely. Most editors read the first page at the most. If it catches their attention, they read on.
- Most publishers receive between 7,000 and 20,000 submissions every year.
- Most publishers publish around 180 books a year.
- Most agents will agree to represent 1 in 500 submissions.
So there you have it -- the odds, as it were, of getting noticed. I thought I'd just post some of these statistics now and again so people realize that this is a tough business. Probably about as tough as the music business, or fine arts, or restauranting -- any endeavor where there's limited purchasers and lots of sellers.