Monday, July 25, 2005

Warning: Questionable Math Figures Ahead

A lady in one of my study groups recently attended a writers conference. She sat in on a talk given by a couple of agents who indicated that the market is trending downward significantly, and that the world isn't reading books anymore. They didn't expect there to be a change in this, and all-in-all it was a very discouraging talk.

I found this hard to believe. After all, I've been to Barnes and Noble on a Saturday, and there's not a parking space to be found. Lest you think that all the customers there are window shopping, I've also found that the checkout line is usually 10 people or more deep - and that's with several clerks open!

So, I started poking around. Here's what I found (please keep in mind that math is NOT my strong suit):

I was puttering around on the RWA website, and came across a PDF file on romance books sales and statistics.

It indicates that total romance books sold in 2003 (the latest year they reported on) equaled 2,093.

If you figure that 2/3 of them were by established writers (and that's just a figure I made up, so could be wrong, but seems reasonable), then that leaves 711 books to be published by new romance writers for the year.

It also indicated that romance sales made up 33.8% of popular fiction sales for the year. Mysteries were second with 25.6%.

Bear with me and my questionable math....

If 2093 = 33.8% then approximately 6200 = 100%, so about 1,587 new mystery books were pubbed in 2003. Again, assuming that 2/3 were by established authors, that leaves 540 books for new authors during the year.

In my head, that's an awful lot of opportunity for those of us who are pre-published authors, don't you think? Lots of people write, but few finish a novel. And of the few who finish, fewer still bother to persistently query either agents or editors.

That means that those of us who finish novels and are persistent, have a wonderful opportunity before us.

It just sounds like those agents don't know what they're talking about.

But that's just my opinion.

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