Here’s a column with some cheery news. The odds of one of us making enough to live off the income from our original books are 380 to 1.
That figure comes from Greg Slominski, who is trying to market his novel, Princess and The Bean, which appears to be self-published. Being an engineer, he worked the numbers based on 195,000 books in 2004 and 5% of authors who make a living off their books alone. Read the column for more details.
Despite my inexperience in publishing, I don’t trust those numbers.
Were 195,000 books really published last year? Industry researcher R.R. Bowker is supposed to be the source for that number. Their site lists a preliminary 182,000. I know that may not be the most current, but the number does includes every book published. For fiction only, 25,184 are counted. Literature, 4,671. How many of the 195k are reprints, new editions, coloring books, textbooks, or workbook companions?
The 5% figure comes from publicist Rick Frishman. He says it isn’t a hard percentage; just one to get people thinking. Ok, but how many published authors want to make a living off their books, by which I do not mean living exclusively but significantly so? What is the percentage of those who succeed in relation to all who try? More like 15%?
Many books are written by teachers, scholars, executives, and ministry leaders. Most literature seems to be written by professors, which I think is a good system; but far too often for my taste, I hear that the author of a Christian book has a ministry on the same topic or is a pastor. Where are the regular guys? Where are the artists?
Maybe they are the ones outside that 5%.