Been having some interesting conversations lately, about authors, burnout and competition rates. So, let’s throw some numbers out to get this conversation going.

Titles Release and Surviving

First, from FictionDB and their database which is mostly (if not exclusively) trad pub… A percentile breakdown of how many titles authors have released. 

  • 1 title (57th %)
  • 2 titles (73rd) 
  • 3 titles (81st) 
  • 6 titles (90th) 
  • 11 titles (95th) 
  • 27+ titles (99th)

So 57% of authors have released at one title (and only one!) while 73% 2, and 81% 3 titles. 

Put another way, only 20% of all (trad) authors ever release 3 or more titles. 

Now, this data was in 2020. It does seem to include indie authors (I’m on Fiction DBs site) so these numbers might skew even weirder now. 3 titles is 5 years in ‘trad pub’ lifetime (on average, not including multiple titles or pennames). 

On the other hand, indie authors release much more often and much faster. So they’d skew the numbers upwards – though, one wonders if they skew upwards in terms of longevity. And obviously, it’s only one database but… worth noting.

Anyway… that brings me to my next point.

Competition in the LitRPG Genre

Was in a conversation with Alex Knowles and he pointed out that Gamelit Society noted a total of 628 titles published / asked for new release posting in 2021. That’s over 50 titles a month.

And those are just the ones who ask to post in Gamelit Society and excludes the sub-group of LitRPG Harem stuff that often doesn’t get posted or people who never bother posting in the Gamelit Society. 

If anything, that number seems small to me. I constantly run into series that I have never heard of. Now, that might be a FB algorithim thing, but I also think a lot just don’t bother with the FB groups.

Compare that to when I first started writing and maybe, just maybe; you’d get 10 new books a month. Total.

Competition levels have increased significantly, and any given month there’s likely 5-10 ‘big’ series coming out that are vying for attention.

Survivorship Bias

Which leads me to my next point. Survivorship bias in advice and experience. It’s one thing for me to give advice on some aspect of craft or marketing or what not, but the competitive environment I grew up in is very different from those trying to launch now.

On top of that, the people who do survive long enough to give out advice often lean heavily into ‘this is what worked for me and this is the way to do it’, without necessarily explaining WHY they have that bias.

It’s less noticeable in larger groups like 20books where you are able to note multiple individuals with multiple ways of achieving success. In smaller genres like LitRPG; with a shorter timeline, the variations of success is just smaller overall. 

Anyway, just a reminder to watch out. Keep in mind that anyone who hasn’t had at least 5 years experience is still slowly building upwards and might just disappear at any moment. Burnout is a thing.

Add the fact that different timelines of success equate to different experiences and be careful about the kind of advice you get. Very few people are willing to restart again if they are very successful with one name (unless that their strategy of burning pen names); so many people like me who have gained some degree of success are also somewhat disconnected from the experience of people just starting out.

As always, weigh advice and test.

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