Sometimes when in a writing slump, I look to the web for inspiration. Let's see...ah The National Endowment for the Arts! Yes, I think, they usually have something inspiring. I shake my head as I read that more than half of the adults in the United States won't pick up a novel this year. Sonovabitch.
And apparently that rate of decline has tripled in the last ten years.
Hell. You're being published depends, of course, on supply and demand. If there isn't a demand for your type of literature out there, then why should someone invest in your manuscript?
So who reads? The greatest market is composed of married, middle-age career women who make an average of $88,000 a year and have at least a bachelor's degree, says a new survey. This, from the Chicago Sun-Times.
According to the article nearly 43 percent want to write novels as well.
What does this mean for genres such as horror? spy thrillers? Obviously, romance doesn't have to worry. On another blog I bemoaned the amazing amount of fantasy on the shelves and the shrinking numbed of hard science fiction titles. Of course, science fiction and horror have always been marginal, so I'm not really complaining.
So what's on the Barnes and Noble bestsellers' list this week? 1)The Quickie by James Patterson 2) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 3)High Noon by Nora Roberts 4)Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich 5) The Judas Strain by James Rollins 6) Double Take by Catherine Coulter 7)The Bourne Betrayal by Robert Ludlum 8) The Bungalow 2 by Danielle Steele 9) The Navigator by Clive Cussler 10) The 6th Target by James Patterson
Do you notice how some of these names seem to be on the bestsellers' list over and over again, summer after summer, year after year? New authors have a hard time squeezing in unless the corporations are willing to back them, and to be honest, would you rather back Danielle Steele or Stewart Sternberg. Danielle Steele is going to guarantee you solid sales, regardless of the quality of her fiction. Sternberg? He's going to guarantee you headaches.
It's harder than ever to have a novel published (congrats, Charles), and publishing doesn't mean success. Consider that the average shelf life of a book at your local store is six weeks. Hmmm...for people who read one novel every couple of years, that means they are going to be missing some major titles.
These statistics shouldn't scare writers away from their craft, but it might help them put it in a more realistic perspective. Selling's a bitch. Writing is a business. Be a writer, but be a businessman, or businesswoman. Yeah, go ahead and hold your nose in the air and say something about art. I don't want to hear it.
Save it for creative writing class. Maybe someone there will care. But for most, they aren't publishers, are they?