Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some statistics about writers

I have always been interested in the ways that the place one lives and creates effects one's creative process and the art/writing one produces. One reason is I have moved at least every three years through out my entire life. New states, new cities, new homes, new friends, even a few countries thrown in the mix. Her are some stats that lead me to a question: Authors, writers and editors held about 281,300 jobs in 2008. Writers and authors held about 151,700 jobs and editors held about 129,600 jobs. About 70 percent of writers and authors were self-employed, while 12 percent of editors were self-employed.
Among the 30 percent of salaried writers and authors, about half work in the professional, scientific, and technical services and in publishing (except Internet) industries. These industries include advertising, public relations and related services and newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers, respectively. Other salaried writers and authors work in broadcasting, professional and social organizations, and the motion picture and video industries.
While 51 percent of salaried editors worked in the publishing, except Internet industry (half of those for newspapers), a large number of editors were also employed in other industries. Business, professional and social organizations, information services, and educational institutions employed editors to work on their publications or Web content.
Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities allow writers to work from almost anywhere. Many prefer to work outside these cities and travel regularly to meet with publishers and clients and to do research or conduct interviews in person. As a result, job location is less of a requirement for many writing or editing positions than it once was. 
The previous paragraph interests me the most, because I recently heard the percentage of american working novelists that in and around New York City is around 75% of all novelists in the nation. Does anyone know if proximity to publishers and agents is of such an advantage that novelists choose to move to NYC in order to further their careers? 


  1. 1 in 16 citizens of the United States live in the NY-metro area. That could have something to do with the higher percentage. Combine that with the fact that people who live in a progressive urban environment are probably more likely to be attracted to the Arts than those who have less exposure. To take it a step further, I would argue that smaller cities often foster an attitude which "frowns" on the various forms of artistry as a profession. Further still, artists are often more in touch with their emotions (i.e. more sensitive) than the common man; some may move to a larger area like NY in order to have more emotional support from their peers as they hone their art. Just some thoughts.

  2. Here is a story someone related to me: I heard Don DeLillo speak some years back and he essentially said that New York City was the only place for serious novelists to live and work. He sounded rather pompous at the time, but I came to learn over the following decade that most book deals came from networking mostly in and around the NYC publishing industry.

    In the visual arts it has been described to me as Spheres of Influence. NYC is still the primary Sphere of Influence for publishing and art in the US. It doesn't mean that other places aren't doing good work (even better work) but that when one has a creative success in NYC it becomes a national or international story. One does the same thing in Houston, it is a local story.


This is not about Raymond Carver

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