The 90:10 principle of publishing

January 12, 2009 in On Writing by pacejmiller

Here is an interesting statistic about the world of publishing I got from the book How to Publish Your Novel: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes by Ken Atchity.

It is called the 90:10 principle – ie, 10% of new titles will generate 90% of a publisher’s profits.  Pretty scary.

Apparently, in both large and medium-sized publishing houses, about 10% of each season’s new titles pay for the entire list of new books.  Further, only 20% make a moderate profit, 20% barely break even, and the remaining 50% generate a loss.

For someone like me, who thinks just getting published is the greatest accomplishment there could be, it’s not a very encouraging thing to read.