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17 Full Grown Elephants?
Thatís a Lot of Books

By Brian Hill and Dee Power copyright 2005 all rights reserved

2004 saw a record of 195,000 new books released in the United States, a growth rate of 20,000 per year for the last three years. 195,000 new titles, what does that mean?

If the books were shelved side by side one would need three miles of shelving. If the books were stacked one atop the other, they would reach nearly ten times higher than the worldís tallest building, the Taipei 101, which measures 1,671 feet. To transport one copy of each title, the vehicle would have to be capable of hauling 73 tons or 18 full grown elephants. Laying the books down in a straight line would require nearly 27 miles of railroad tracks.

And most interestingly of all, if one author wrote all these books, consecutively, he or she would have had to start writing during the time of Neanderthal Man, nearly 100,000 years ago. 195,000 books is almost 10 billion words.

How difficult is it to get a book published by a commercial publisher? Well the odds are better gambling in Las Vegas. It has been estimated that 25 million people in the United States consider themselves writers and only 5% have been published anywhere. Ready for another dose of reality? Only 1% of manuscripts submitted to publishing houses are accepted for publication.

Most major publishing houses, and many small presses, will not accept submissions that arenít represented by a literary agent. During the research of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, the authors, Brian Hill and Dee Power, asked literary agents how many unsolicited query letters/proposals/sample chapters, they receive. For the typical agency it is close to 5000 per year. On the average these agents accepted only 11 new clients, thatís about 1 out of every 500 submissions.

If 99% of all manuscripts submitted are rejected, by any standard, a writer whose book has been published has achieved a major accomplishment. However you look at it, 195,000 is a lot of new titles and a lot of happy authors. .


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