Wednesday, August 6, 2008


RIP Solzhenitsyn (some people used to say I bore a resemblance to this great one)

Want to be a writer? Here's some numbers from Otto Penzler's mystery column in the New York Sun. (Thanks again to Ken Biz)

Here are a few statistics to mull over while you decide when to hit the keyboard, compiled in a study by the National Endowment for the Arts (the latest year of the study was 2005):

Number of authors: 185,276 (I think 90% are writing mysteries, and I read most of their manuscripts this year.)

Increase since 1990: 39%

Median income for full-time authors: $50,800

Median income for entire civilian labor force: $38,700

Female authors: 54.9%

Minority authors: 10.8%

Authors under age 35: 26.8%

Authors with at least a bachelor's degree: 83.1%

Self-employed authors: 45.9%

Number of authors living in New York and California: about 50,000

No. 1 city for authors per capita: Santa Fe, N.M.

What does it all mean? If you want to write, then get a degree, move to Santa Fe, and follow your bliss. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to have the creativity and work ethic of James Patterson or Nora Roberts.
Mr. Penzler is the proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan and the series editor of the annual Best American Mystery Stories. He can be reached at

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