Author Statistics To Get You Thinking

By on November 12, 2020

Being an author can be a tough job, and there are many times where we are left wondering whether we are following the right path. Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that if you want to be a successful writer, you have to beat some pretty severe competition and write the right book at the right time. Knowing some of the cold, hard facts about being an author can help you understand a little more about what it takes and whether pursuing a writing career is the right move for you. 

At what age do most authors get published?

One study of professionally published novelists revealed that an author's average age first publishing a book was 36 years. This might come as a welcome surprise for younger writers struggling to get their first novels finished. It takes many years to write a book. In fact, there are plenty of successful authors who didn't have their first book published until after their fortieth birthday, including George Elliot, Marcel Proust, J. R. R. Tolkien, Richard Adams, Daniel Defoe, and Frank McCourt. The oldest first time, Bertha Wood published author didn't get her first novel out until her 100th birthday - so it's never too late!

What percentage of authors get published?

A report from Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey was published in 2014 and used data from nine thousand people. The conclusion was that 23% of authors who managed to complete their manuscript went on to being traditionally published. That's almost 1 in four, which isn't bad odds after all!

Who is the most published author ever?

L. Ron Hubbard had the most lucrative writing career of all time. His career spans from February 1934 to March 2006, and in that time, he published a whopping 1084 books. 

Which famous authors only wrote one book?

While you might aim to write as many books as possible in your time as an author, it's also interesting and perhaps comforting to know that plenty of world-famous authors were 'one-hit wonders' and only write one book that managed to see them through. Those authors include Anna Sewell, (Black Beauty), Emily Brontë, (Wuthering Heights), Boris Pasternak, (Doctor Zhivago), Margaret Mitchell, (Gone With the Wind), and Sylvia Plath, (The Bell Jar).

How many authors make a living writing?

We have to accept that while you might get published, this doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to quit your day job. If we look at North America alone, it is estimated that fewer than 1000 fiction writers earn their keep that way. While the self-publishing market has probably increased that figure in recent years, the odds of being able ONLY to be a writer are only slightly better than winning the lottery. 

How much do authors get paid?

Self-published authors can earn between 40% – 60% royalties for each book they publish if they publish on platforms such as Amazon. Traditionally published authors are typically offered around 10% royalties on each book sale. If you manage to find a publisher, you may well be offered an advance, though this is far from a life-changing about and usually around $10,000. A bestselling book can earn the big bucks, but if, to make it on a bestseller list, you need to sell 20,000 copies, you'll make around $20,000 on a 10% royalty scheme. The hard truth is that most books sell less than 5,000 copies. 

Are writers happy?

CareerExplorer conducts ongoing surveys of people in various careers to discover how satisfied they are. At present, authors rate their happiness as 4.1 out of 5. This puts them in the top 7% of all careers, according to this site. This covers salary, how meaningful they find their work, and how enjoyable their work environments are.

So there we have it, these facts may have helped or hindered you, encouraged an inspired or left you feeling a little despondent. We hope it's the former. Remember, as longs you are enjoying what you are doing - that's what really counts!

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