Good news or bad news?

It is estimated that British publishers take on one novel out of every 2,000 they receive – a statistic to make even the most self-confident writer despair, but the fact remains that novels are still published, and first-time authors are still offered deals.

Clare Littleford, crime author
(Gleaned from Writers News)



  1. There’s always been wheat and chaff – I guess the positive way to think about this is that with greater personal wealth, rise of the internet and simplified word processing it is generally easier to “write” then it was 25 years ago. You gotta hope/assume/wonder that most of the increase comes in the chaff section so the odds for good writers haven’t changed. No? Anyone?

  2. I don’t think writing is any easier, but the barriers to production are lower. People have more free time and better equipment, thus more output exists. So those odds sound about right. The US numbers are the same or a bit worse.

    From an agent’s blog:

    20,800 queries received
    54 full manuscripts requested
    8 accepted as clients
    21 projects sold

    Ultimately, it’s not a question of odds for writers; they quit or they press ahead. Being in the latter group is the statistic that matters.

  3. Ah well, yes, depressing it may be for novelists, but for short story writers the situation is even bleaker. I wonder if these same British publishers take one short story collections in ever 10,000? Thank god for the small presses etc…

  4. Dumbfunk – when you say easier to write, do you mean, it’s simpler to present a typed manuscript to an agent or publisher (even though the content may be truly dreadful)?

    I would agree with that – it takes a little less commitment – in the past, you had to write everything out by hand, and probably get someone to type it up.

    I don’t think that it’s easier to write in other ways though. I don’t subscribe to the view that everyone has a book in them. Not a polished, publishable one at any rate.

    As Sam says, statistics are interesting, but only up to a point. I’d be much more interested in seeing figures of the publishable books that are turned down.

    And for short story writers, it is even worse. The campaign to save the short story, a couple of years back. Didn’t seem to make any lasting impression. How to get more people reading short stories – that’s the challenge.

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