Ever Widening Door

Lately I've been pondering a couple of questions. Are there really more aspiring writers than ever before? Are the expectations for new writers getting higher with each passing year?

When I think about the entertainment industry in general, specifically music and movies, I can't keep up with all of the actors/actresses and singers. New "stars" appear every day. With the explosion of cable TV, Netflix, and iTunes, more wannabe's are able to slip through the ever-widening entertainment door.

What about the publishing industry? Has that door opened wider too? One need only browse through Amazon books to see the incredible number of books being written. Or Books-A-Million--the title says it all.

Just as in movies and music, the number of "star" authors are increasing. I'm continually reading author interviews and reviews of new books on different blogs. When I browse the shelves at the bookstore, I'm often overwhelmed at the choices. Every time I turn around I learn about a new author and another great book.

Agents have complained of flooded inboxes and the astronomical rise in the queries they're receiving. So not only are there lots of new authors, there are even more unpublished writers trying to get in the door.

Have you noticed the ever widening door? Are there really more published authors and books than ever before or does the access of internet marketing just make it seem that way? Also, why do you think there are so many new writers?

This week I'd like to discuss how the growth in the writing industry affects unpublished writers. More tomorrow. . .


  1. Is vanity publishing playing a significant role? I'm not sure, good question, though.

  2. Hmmmm... good quesiton. I think there has always been lots of writers. I think we just notice it so much because we're entrenched in the industry now. Our eyes are opened to it! Think about your life outside the blogs and the interviews - think about your every day life outside writing. I know I don't meet any people who claim they want to be a writer. It's online where we find all these aspiring authors. I'm looking forward to reading your posts this week though. :)

    And I finished my rough draft!!! YEA!

  3. I really noticed this when I spent part of date night at Barnes & Nobles this weekend. I ended up buying a book I'm not in love with, but have a list of about 5 others I want to read...who has time to read so many books?

    Great question. Makes me think, 'Why do I keep at it' if there are so many (like seashells)?I think my answer for this has always been the hope to impact even just one (though, I won't lie, I want to impact millions)...think I'll blog on something like this later (thanks for the inspiration)!
    ~ Wendy

  4. Rebecca: We are seeing a lot more of the non-traditional publishing emerging. But is it creating more aspiring writers or did they develop out of the need of the already existing large pool of unpublished writers? Myabe both?

    Katie: Congratulations on finishing your WIP!! You must have made some great progress this weekend! And you definitely brought up a good point, maybe because we're immersed in the writing world, our vision gets a little skewed about the numbers of writers. It might seem like everybody is writing, but that's not the "real" world!

  5. Wendy: I sometimes think the same way! Will my book ever be able to make an impact among the millions that are out there? But you're right, if we're doing what God wants for us, he'll use our books to touch just the right people he has planned.

  6. There have probably always been aspiring authors beyond our knowledge, but the internet has brought us together more. Also, the increase in self-publishing companies makes the possibility of being published so much more within reach.

  7. Good question! I have to agree with Warren. I think the internet has brought the writing community together and has given us communication options we might not have had before. But as writers competing for a piece of the publishing also makes us more aware.

  8. Warren: That's true that the internet has made us much more aware of other writers. Perhaps there always were this many but now we're just more visible to each other.

    Chelle: We definitely have more communication options than ever before: blogs, FB, Twitter. Maybe these have all added to our knowledge and spurred other writers to join in.

  9. I love the door picture BTW--I'm really not sure what the answer is cause I never really noticed before I got into the writing field. I bet there are the same amount of people wanting to be writers, we just might be seeing more out there making it with the opportunities for publishing.

  10. I've thought about this before and it def. feels overwhelming. So now I try not to think about how few slots there are for the multitude of writers out there. All I can do is write my best. :-)
    Yeah, though, I think the door is wider, thanks to the internet. I think it's the door to getting your work out there though, not necessarily to having a career.

    I've heard some reasons for the growth in queries is the economy and layoffs. More people with more time?

  11. Oh, I'm not totally sure on this. I never paid much attention to how wide the door was before I started on this journey. Internet does make querying more accessable, so that may be a part of the increase.

    I just keep writing for growth, so I don't let the industry challenges effect me too much. What will be will be. I have to put it all in God's hands. I don't handle stress well, if I don't.

  12. Jody: I think there are more aspiring writers than ever, since many people who are out of work now have the time to pursue their lifetime dream of writing.

    I do agree that our world is smaller due to internet, so we know about more people than we did even ten years ago.

    Interesting thoughts...

  13. I'd like to think such numbers are up because more people are "trying" to be writers, when the actual competition - those who take it seriously, put forth the needed effort and have the skill - is similar to what it's always been.

    Interesting discussion to ensue, I'm sure!

  14. With growing technology, I think the door opens wider and wider. I've noticed this in photography, too. With digital, everybody's a photographer now. With online publishing, the easy of querying by email, contacting and networking through blogs, etc. It all makes thing that much easier.

    Unfortunately, I think that the opening door doesn't mean there's any BETTER talent, just that we see more of it. Hopefully it will allow all of us to grow and learn more from each other, and therefore sharpen our skills.

  15. Interesting topic. I think it's the availability of information that makes it seem like there are more aspiring writers out there. I was watching the news last week (a shocker in and of itself) and the anchor asked basically this same question about the degrading morals in our country.

    His guests gave this answer: It's just more public because of television, the Internet, etc.

    Not necessarily that it didn't happen 50 years ago, but that the information wasn't as readily available. I think that's the case here as well.

  16. I don't think there are more aspiring authors, but just a greater ability to actually write.

    First, you have computers vs typewriters. Can ANY of you imagine typing your manuscript on a typewriter? For the SOTP writer like myself who does MASSIVE edits after finishing the first draft... it just boggles my mind.

    Then you have the access to the Internet for research not only for your book, but for access to publishing professionals. I can read an agents blog. before the Internet, how would you even know an agent's address/phone number? Or even their name????

    So, I think what has risen is the accessability to the tools for writing.

  17. Those are good questions. I've noticed as well that there seem to be so many more writers now. Shelves used to be full of numerous books by handfuls of well-known authors. Now there are the same amount of books but mostly they're all by different authors, most of which I haven't heard of.

    I think technology has a lot to do with this and agree with what a lot of other people have said. I do also feel like that doesn't mean the quality of writers hasn't gone up. If I randomly pick up five books in the store and bring them home and read them, I usually find that I really only enjoy two out of the five (and those two are well written so I can understand why they got published).

  18. I think technology and self-publishing has a lot to do with it. People can actually get their books in print now where before, they had to have a publishing contract.

  19. I think it's true about self-publishing opening more doors, but the route to traditional publishing, particularly with recent mergers and lay-offs, seems more difficult than ever. I guess the old advice rings true, write the very best book you can, edit it until it shines, and don't give up. It's a journey, but a fascinating one at the same time.

  20. As a reader, I'm thankful for the wide variety of Christian books available. Christian fiction was almost non-existant when I was younger.

    Kristi Holl, over at Writer's First Aid, ran a piece about this subject awhile back. She published an exerpt from an old letter where the writer bemoaned the difficulty of getting his book into print.

    While there might be a lot of writers out there, there are also more readers. However, the amount of choices available raises the bar. Our writing must be stellar, as well as our marketing efforts.

    Thanks for opening this discussion. I'm looking forward to reading the comments.

    Susan :)

  21. Maybe there are more writers because lots of people are jobless, plus the availability of POD outlets?

  22. Are there more aspiring writers than ever? As a percent of the population, maybe not. What I think we see, courtesy technological advances, is more people exercising their aspirations. Technology gives people the tools, and via the Internet, opens avenues making more things seem possible than ever before. And of course, in today's economy, it's simply a fact that people who are jobless are likely use a part of their time to do something they've always wanted to do.

    As to expectations, because the pool of aspirants is growing, the expectations are rising, as they should. Don't you want to write the best book you can? So does everyone else, or most writers anyway. It means the competition is high, but I take it as motivation to get better.

  23. It's hard to believe there's any room at the trough, isn't it. That's why I love reading the OT so much, it clearly demonstrates God is in control.

  24. I think it's more accessible to query a book now than it was before. A writer would have to purchase a Writer's Market to even find a publisher or agent.

    Yes, I think they're are many more people submitting work than ever before and it's all because the submission information is available at our fingertips.

  25. Terri: It is hard to notice when we're not in the writing field; oblivion was kinda nice, wasn't it?

    Jessica: Good idea not to focus on how few slots there are! We don't need to discourage ourselves!

    Eileen: You have such a positive attitude; I wish I could as easily leave it all in the Lord's hands!

    Jeanette: I tend to agree with you that there are more writers AND more knowledge of them.

    Janna: I like your thought that, there might be more writers, but the numbers taking it seriously have stayed about the same. Many can write, but not everyone can persevere.

    Lady Glamis: Interesting point about photography and digital cameras. If more people are doing it, does it make it harder for those who truly have a passion for it to be taken seriously? Is that true also of writers?

    Elana J: Thanks for stopping by! If you look at past civilizations and the horrific crimes (take slavery and the slave ships as an example), then I would have to agree, that evils have always existed! We just get to hear about everything now!

    Krista: Excellent points! I can't imagine using a type writer either! Combined with an explosion of information available at the push of a button, that would certainly making a writing career much easier for people.

    Cindy: I think you're right about quality. Just because more books are in print than ever before, doesn't mean the quality is better!

    Melissa: Technology is totally changing things for writers. In some ways it gives us hope, but also can discourage!

    Joanne: I like your advice; no matter the industry, we just need to write the best possible books we can!

    Susan: When I was growing up Christian fiction was fairly nonexistant too. I also think it was easier for the early authors to get published once the CBA market took off.

    Angie: I've heard the theory of jobless people writing. It's an interesting theory!

    Patricia: Technology has definitely given people the tools to exercise their aspiration and that does up the competition!

    T.Anne: So true! We have to remember who's ultimately in control!

    Jill: Querying is super easy! And submitting a MS is too. I remember the days of having to hunt down names and addresses, then having to take everything to the post office. Now anyone can submit at just the touch of a button.

  26. The Internet!

    So much more info on writing and submiting is at your fingertips nowadays. I can't imagine doing it "the old-fashioned way". LOL!

  27. I think there are more aspiring writers than ever, but I'm not sure if larger numbers of them are being published. Through the Internet I think it just seems like there are more, just because there are more ways for writers to connect and market themselves.

  28. Jennifer: The internet has revolutionized the world of writing, hasn't it?

    Kate: We definitely have more ways to connect than ever! Isn't it great?

  29. Strange isn't it, considering that we hear that the publishers are cutting back. I also think we need to promote ourselves more and more. Don't you?

  30. I may be repeating what everyone else has said. The internet has opened up a new door. I didn't notice all the writing blogs or discussions until looked for it. Hide in plain sight theory. You don't see it until you look for it.

    Self publishing has also opened the door for those who can't get published the traditional way. My husband say go for the agent, my dad says he'll pay for iuniverse. Weighing one against the other, traditional publishing seems the route to go if seriously want to pursue it.

    Happy Mother's Day by the way. :)

  31. GutsyWriter: With the current economy perhaps we will see a change in the numbers of books on the shelves eventually. Will be interesting to see.

    Robin: I've grown in awareness too, of the amazing numbers of writers. Maybe they've always been there to some extent, but now I'm so much more in touch with reality!

  32. Jody, Thanks for generating so much discussion on this. Some of it was very helpful. WB

  33. Hi Warren,
    I agree! The discussion was very insightful!


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