Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Are the Odds?

Raise Your Hand if You Want to Write a Book

I read a throw-away line somewhere that said a poll taken in the US showed that 80% of Americans want to write a book. Somewhere else I read that only 2% of writers get published. If those two statistics alone don’t depress you, read on and let’s take a harder look at the numbers.

What Are the Odds?

There were 309,453,592 people in the US as of June 8, 2010 (when I wrote this). However, that number includes every man, woman, and child. The most current number of adults in the US, according to the US Census Bureau, is 281,421,906. Eighty percent of them is 225,137,520 - that’s how many people want to write a book. Of those people only 2% or 4,502,750 people will be published.

The odds of my being published are 1 in 4,592,750. Not great odds, are they? In fact, the odds in favor of winning the Power Ball jackpot are far greater, something like 1 in a 195,249,054. I’m beginning to feel better already.

But Will They Put Pen to Paper?

That being said, how many of those 225+ million people will ever put pen to paper (so to speak)? Of those who do, how many have what it takes to get 100,000 or even 50,000 words down on paper? Of those, how many can then spend the next several months rewriting and revising? Of those, how many can write a decent query letter? Of those who do, how many can handle the first, second, or tenth rejection letter? Of those who can, how many can handle the 20th or 30th rejection letter?

I figure after all that, my odds of getting published are far greater than winning the lottery. And I don’t have to spend any money to win the getting-published lottery.

Why Not You or Me?

What choice do we have? We must tell our stories no matter that the odds are against us. Some one has to be published. Why not me? Or you?

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