January 13, 2011

The Write Facts

Let's begin the morning with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday!  Scout, my beloved brown dog, is 4 years old today.  (And, I might add, she shares her birthday with McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy - coincidence...?)

baby pictures...

...for your enjoyment
(because she's so cute!)
In case you were wondering (admit it, you were!) there will definitely be cake :)  (Yellow, with vanilla icing, because chocolate, though delicious, is very bad for dogs!)

So anyway...

I'm always wondering about stuff.  Just the way my mind works (and no comments along the lines of, "What?  Your mind works?"!)

I've been writing for years, and I've been fortunate enough to publish a few books.  I know a lot more than when I started about the process a book goes through from idea to bookstore/library shelf.

I used to have no idea what a proof, a galley, or an F&G was.  Now I have some of each that I can share with kids on school visits so that they can know something about the writing business.  (I would have LOVED to have an author come visit my school when I was a kid... back in the olden days... before the invention of the wheel...!)

Just this year, I got a running sheet for the first time (thanks to my wonderful editor at Walker!)  If you've never seen one, it's the coolest thing ever. The whole book is printed on one huge sheet, with pages all upside down, backwards, and out of order.  But when you fold it the right way and cut it in the right place, it's the book!

But although I'm slightly less ignorant than I was, there are still a whole lot of things about the publishing world that I want to know!

For example, how many books do you have to sell for your publisher to feel you are doing well?  (And "as many as possible" though obvious, is not a helpful answer!)  And, if you don't earn out your advance, do publishers perceive your book as a failure?  And, with so many amazing books and authors out there, how do you get people to notice your book?

So in case you, like me, wonder about stuff, here are some interesting tidbits I found out recently:

1.  The average picture book writer will write 10 books for every 1 their agent deems strong enough to submit - no guarantee of publishing.  (And if you don't have an agent, you can figure for yourself that 1 out of every 10 books you write will hopefully be saleable.  I don't think my average is that good - more like 1 out of 20 :))

2.  There are about 300 editors actively acquiring in children's books at the moment (that's all levels of children's books, and editors from houses of all sizes across the board.)  Of these, only 70-100 are even looking for picture books.

3.  This year, 150,000 authors will finish their masterpiece, but only about 1/3 of all new titles sell more than 100 copies.

4.  Only a small percentage of published books earn out their advances.

I'm not trying to depress you!  It's just, I wonder about this stuff, so I thought you might too.

Anyone who has any other interesting facts on file, please share!  I'm always interested!

Have a wonderful day, and eat some cake in honor of Scouty Brown - yours can be chocolate - she won't mind :)

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