Sorry to be Capt. Bringdown today, but I found a few articles that shed light on some ugly truths about the publishing industry.
First, and not exactly breaking news: it is extremely hard for new writers to find agents and publishers. However, when celebrities like Rush Limbaugh can get their children’s books published, it’s a clear example of the modern focus on “platform” over talent.
And even when those few lucky writers manage to break into the shiny world of print, regardless of if they self-publish or go the traditional route, they will probably make less than $1,000 a year. Yes, you read that right: the majority of published authors make less than a grand a year.
James Stewart’s article in the New York Times goes into more detail, contrasting the kind of support that more famous authors get from their publishers with the lack of support that new authors receive.
The takeaway, for me, seems to be that despite talent and hard work, breaking into the publishing industry is like winning the lottery, except you don’t get nearly as much money. This is the kind of story that makes self-publishing so much more attractive; if you’re only going to make $1,000 a year anyway, why torture yourself with endless querying, rejections, loss of creative control, etc., when you can just put it out there yourself and cut out the middleman?