Steven sez, “Author Jim C. Hines did a survey of the factors that may (or may not have) impacted first novel sales, getting responses from 246 professionally published authors. It’s pretty fascinating reading. Since Jim’s a friend of mine, I asked if I could take my own whack at his data. Mine’s a lot more stats-geeky than his… but his is a lot more fun to read.”
So how long does it take to sell that book? Of our 246 authors, the average age at the time they sold their first professional novel was 36.2 years old. The median was also 36, and the mode was 37. Basically, the mid-to-late 30’s is a good age to sell a book.
But that doesn’t tell us how long these authors were working at their craft. So the very next question in the survey asked, “How many years had you been writing before you made your first professional novel sale?”
The responses ranged from a single respondent who said 0 years, all the way to 41 years, with an average of 11.6 years. Both the median and the mode came in at an even ten years.
You could argue that the single response from someone who had been writing for 0 years proves that overnight success can happen, and you’re right. It can happen. So can getting struck by lightning.