March 9, 2017

Writers Per Capita

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Most of us know an author, have met an author or we are an author. It seems to us that everyone is writing a book. In 2009 over 1,052,000 books were published in the USA. That is a lot and it appears to be a saturation of books. But our 1 million plus books per year per a population of over 300 million is nothing compared to the nation with the most writers per capita.  

On October 24th, 2011 Dennis Abrams writing for BBC News Magazine wrote the following: "Iceland is experiencing a book boom. This island nation of just over 300,000 people has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world." In Iceland one in 10 people is a published author. Abrams went on to describe the competition as being fierce. One gentleman he interviewed told of living with his mother and partner who were also full time writers. To be less competitive with each other they try to publish in alternate years.

Iceland, since it's independence from Denmark has established its separate identity as a Nation through its literature. Iceland, having a strong culture of strong minded and strong willed individuals of Scandinavian descent, likes its own authors and many of its citizens are prolific readers. With one in 10 people being an author, there better be some readers as well and there are. Writers there are like writers everywhere these days. They sell their books to their community. Their community is one they have cultivated through social media, personal contact, newsletters, book reviews and the like. Authors that are more fortunate find an international market. All in all it is one of the most competitive markets in the world.

So the next time you think that getting published is too competitive here in our world, think about Iceland. Think about walking down the street and every tenth person you meet is your competition. Think about finding a market for you book in a nation of 300,000 people where 30,000 are also looking for a market for their book. Thinking about this can give you hope, give you a second wind and get you back in the saddle so to speak. Maybe we can learn from the Icelanders. 

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