Saturday, July 31, 2010

I have three new stories up, posted under "Words in Print:"
-- "Picture Window" @ Birdville
-- "Up High in the Trees" @ Troubadour 21
-- "After the Rainy Season" @ Literary Laundry.
The last story is a long one, adapted from some real life experiences I had on a gut-wrenching trip to Cambodia.

...I haven't written any stories or poetry for ten days. Feels like ten months. I'm not good at toggling between short pieces and the novel, so I'm keeping my head mostly down, slogging away with book edits. However, at a certain point it is getting really difficult to know if the novel is even any good. Perhaps in a couple of weeks I'll post some excerpts and you can tell me your thoughts.

...In the next few posts I'm going to try to distill more of the PNWA Writer's Conference. I'll try to group the thoughts thematically.

For today, here are some of the gruesome stats about the current state of publishing, writing (writers), agents, editors, etc.:

--new writers have a 90% failure rate
--only 5% of the population reads
--78% of all readers are women
--only 8.8% of all fiction sold is considered literary
--the average book sells fewer than 250 copies a year
--of the 1.2 million titles published each year, 950,000 sell fewer than 99 copies; only 25,000 ever sell more than 5,000
--books are getting smaller, not bigger; in the 70-90,000 word range
--editors "can only buy books that fit in a box," a niche. "it's the most important thing, almost as much as the quality of the writing itself."
--most agents only request one percent of the work they're queried about. most manuscripts are rejected because of the sagging middle
--you have to market your own work. all of the marketing dollars now go to the best-selling writers because publishing houses are covering their investment
--"book stores are consignment stores"
--book signings are a dying thing
--if your pitch or query isn't any good, your book will never leave your computer (we'll look at queries and pitching in the upcoming week.)

Well, hey, that's about enough good news to make a writer want to kill themselves, right? On the other hand, if your glass is brimming half full, you could read those facts and think to yourself that most people would be scared off, will feel defeated and won't have the moxie to persevere, so if i keep plugging along, i'll be the only one agents and editors will have to choose from... at least that's what I'm telling myself. Something like that.

...Writing is lonely. It's hard. You have to get used to rejection. That doesn't mean you learn to like it, or anticipate it, or even accept it--you just have to realize that rejection is part of the writing game. If you want to be a fireman but can't handle smoke inhalation, don't be a fireman. If you want to be a pro football player but don't want to get injured, don't play football. If getting rejected constantly shatters your self confidence and will, then for God's sake, don't be a writer.

...Be strong fellow writer. We can do this. We can, because we love it. Right?

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Len. Those stats are indeed depressing, but if you like writing enough, you'll learn to live with them.