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Did You Know? Understanding The Publishing World

by Scott Lindsay

Sometimes putting things in perspective is useful when trying to gain a clear understanding of the many facets of the publishing world.

This article is intended to provide some random statistics to help you understand the publishing world a little better.

Did You Know…

Nearly 80% of all book titles made available each year are published by small publishers or are self published?

Nearly 50% of all book sales are attributed to the five major publishing houses in New York (Random House, Penguin Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, AOL/Time Warner)?

The top five publishing houses account for over five billion dollars annually in both national and international sales of books?

Christian books (all categories and all publishers) comprise more than 4 billion dollars in annual sales?

More than 50% of all books sold are fiction?

Most first edition print runs are 5,000 or fewer copies?

In order for a fiction book to be declared a success it must sell 5,000 copies?

Book sales account for 25-30 billion dollars in annual revenue?

One third of total book sales occur in the United States?

The people of Los Angeles buy more books than any other city in the United States?

"eBook sales increased 1,442% in January 2003 over January 2002"? (PublishersWeekly)

There are 15,000 stores in the United States that sell books and slightly more than half of them are actual book stores? book orders account for roughly 5% of all book sales and accounts for $3 billion dollars in annual book sales?

A book store visitor will spend less then 30 seconds looking at a book to determine if they are interested.

According to the Jenkins Group…

1. 81% of the population feels they have a book inside them.
2. 27% would write fiction.
3. 28% would write on personal development
4. 27% would write history, biography, etc.
5. 20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.
6. 6 million have written a manuscript.
7. 6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.
8. Out of every 10,000 children's books, 3 get published.

The above information is designed to show both opportunity and the need for intestinal fortitude in seeking a publisher for your work.

It is clear the publishers are finding success and that authors are being discovered. The real key to any writer's success is that they first hone their craft and then believe enough in what they have to offer that they persevere.

It is not uncommon to see successful authors shop a manuscript to multiple publishers before finding a match. The same will likely be true for an undiscovered talent.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, "Rejoice when you see a rejection slip, you are that much closer to finding the right publisher."

Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of FaithWriters ( and many other web projects. FaithWriters has grown to become one of the largest online destinations for Christian writers. Members include writers from all around the world. Please visit the website at:

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