Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Everyone Wants to Write a Book

Well, maybe not "Everyone." But according to surveys published in the New York Times, USA Today, and other online forums between 2002 and 2016, over 80% of Americans dream of writing a book. Of course this doesn't address the other half of the question: Of this 80%, how many actually set out to do it? 

Regardless of the answer, there's this little sweetheart to contend with:

According to Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind
"Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 actually finish. And if you then add on top of that the fact that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, this means only 6 people get published."
This would be a good time to note that the author of this post never cites any sources for this statistic, so it could be total hogwash. Nor did he mention whether "published" includes self-publishing and/or publishing through independent presses. 

So maybe this statistic needs tweaking (it definitely needs backing). Still, I tend to believe its basic premise: The majority of people here on planet Earth will not write a book in their lifetime. It's easy to forget this, because when I'm on social networking sites such as twitter, it feels like everyone and their mother is a writer. I'd estimate that at least 2,000 of my 'friends'/followers are published. But here is where I need to remind myself that I spent years deliberately building connections with published authors. These numbers do not reflect the world I physically live in day-by-day.

In real life, I do not have one single flesh-and-blood friend who is published. In fact, I work for the largest employer in my hometown with over 2,500 staff members. Of these staff members, there are exactly two who are published authors. A 6th grade teacher, Mr. A. (from one of our local elementary schools), and me. Two. Of over 2,500.

That's a more accurate representation of real life. 

So I guess the moral of the story is, I need to give myself permission to feel good over writing a book. Instead of wallowing in writer's guilt for being such a slow writer, for not cranking out my next book fast enough, for derailing from writing for months at a time, for being terrible at marketing the f*ing thing...why not simply feel damned good for being amongst the 3% (of a possibly bogus statistic) that actually finished writing a book in the first place?

So if you too have finished a manuscript (or are on the verge of doing so), repeat after me: 

Bite me self-doubt, I wrote a book.


  1. One thing I've noticed about being part of the writing community is that most people don't finish what they're working on. I've seen so many writers work and work to the fifth power and after five years, they have absolutely nothing to show for it. On top of that, of the few people who do actually finish one book, they tend to edit it to death, get frustrated, and finally start a new project after another five years. So, we probably are in the top 3%. Plus, you're actually one of the good writers, so self-doubt can definitely go chase its tail or something. ^_^

    1. I feel kinda guilty that this comment made me feel so good. (That makes sense. Yeah.) It's not that I'm happy that 97% of writers don't finish their books (like, "Haha suckers!"), but it feels good to know that we've done something that's not easy or common to do.

      "Plus, you're actually one of the good writers, so self-doubt can definitely go chase its tail or something." Can't stop giggling. Can I get this on a magnet?

  2. I read a lot of romance and many of those women write and publish like 5+ books a year. How in the hell do they do that?! Almost all of them are self-published and most of them are really talented writers. I just cannot understand how they manage that sort of speed!

    So, I'm in the same boat as you, except that I've got several almost finished manuscripts and I cannot seem to finish them. I have a serious fear of finishing for some reason, so there's that. You finished and published which is awesome!!

    I'm looking forward to reading your next book, I don't care if it takes you 10 years to finish it! :D

    1. I can't fathom cranking out 5+ books a year! Even if I had no job and no responsibilities, I still couldn't pull off those numbers.

      I think finishing a manuscript is one of the hardest things to do, because you have to conceive some kind of resolution that miraculously ties up all those loose ends. It's tricky and takes a lot of commitment. I remember rewriting the last chapter of Chasing Echoes four or five times. (Not editing it--I mean totally rewriting it). I'd say the fact that you have several "almost" finished manuscripts still puts you pretty close to that 3%. That's a ton of writing and most people don't accomplish that.

      I hit a wall in Black Lilies. Not a writer's block wall, but a contradiction that I can't seem to figure out. Cross your fingers that I work this one out soon because I want to keep moving forward while the inspiration is still hot! Thanks for being willing to wait 10 years. <3

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