Dr. Jeri Fink

               Author. Traveler. Therapist.
Whaddya Think, Dr. Fink?

What to do - reading, writing or 'rithmatic?

   What's your choice? I'm a therapist, a writer and a reader, so I do it all. And when I have a free moment, I think about why. I'm not very good at Sudoku, but I can unearth numbers that make things interesting. Think about this . . .

   Roughly 3 million book titles are published each year. Each of those titles has at least one author. Nearly 50,000 of those authors write fiction. The rest is nonfiction. There are more than 80,000 publishers in the U.S.  It should be easy for an author to get her or his Great American Novel published. Right?

   Wrong. One literary agent reported that she rejected a "modest" 90% of manuscripts submitted. The most popular agents reject up to 99%. So who's making the money?

  The average royalty income from a single book on The New York Times bestseller list is $30,000 - whether it took five months or five years to write the book.

  Self-published books sell, on average, less than 200 copies. If the author prices them at $10 each, that's a total of $2000 before expenses - including everything from paper, ink, computers, promotion and setup charges from the printer - whether it took five months or five years to write the book. If you sell only ten books, then the author loses money, time and faith.

  Most fiction authors write in their spare time because they can't earn enough money from writing to support themselves. Ever hear of a starving artist? J.K. Rowling survived on public assistance when she wrote the first Harry Potter book.

  Not every writer is J.K. Rowling and not every book is Harry Potter. Yet most writers are notorious optimists. They believe their book is the next bestseller.

  According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, "salaried" writers do much better. News analysts, reporters and correspondents earn from under $20,000 to over $77,000. Of course, most reporters don't end up with glamorous assignments like Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman. Which would you rather write - novels or fillers on road construction?

  Over eleven million of us read the daily newspaper - not counting our local weeklies. More than 20,000 magazines are published in the U.S. The largest circulation goes to AARP The Magazine (it's free with membership). The most popular U.S. newspapers are The Wall Street Journal and USA Today - although the top position is hotly debated between the two.

  What would you rather read about - your money or your life?

  If you don't have a book, magazine, or newspaper in your hands then you're probably reading an e-book. The increase in e-book sales has been reported as high as two hundred percent. Some call it the most dramatic change in reading since the 15th century, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Approximately 12% of U.S. households own an e-reader while 22% of U.S. households with a college graduate have the device. 8% of households boast e-reading enabled tablets like the iPad.

  Who is the typical e-book reader?

  Thanks to popular statistical analyses, the typical e-book reader is easily identified. It is a male, 35-54 years old, has a household income of $100,000 or more, a college or postgraduate degree, and loves to read. According to one Harris Poll, the people least likely to purchase an e-reader live in the Midwest and are over 65 years old. The people most likely to purchase an e-reader are 34-45 years old and live in the West. That translates to an estimate of 20 million e-book owners - projected to quickly reach 30 million.

 I wonder if they calculate by red and blue states as well.

 The fact is, there are lots of us doing reading, writing, and 'rithmatic - not just watching TV or playing on the Internet. E-book readers tend to read more books - while most agree that old-fashioned print technology is not disappearing tomorrow.

 Think of it this way. We're all in the same recliner, soaking up precious words. Lean back and enjoy!

Originally appeared in Allvoices


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