An editor from a small SF publishing house came and spoke to my class tonight.
Basically what it boils down to is this: Writers have an icicles shot in hell of getting published.
They are a small publishing house and when their website says "no unsolicited manuscripts" they still get 250 manuscripts a week. When they remove this stipulation it goes up to 400! A WEEK! He said they have - literally - towers of manuscripts reaching to the ceiling, wrapping around tables, and crawling under chairs.
I learned that only 50% of the books sold in bookstores are ever read. 50%?
And I learned that 80% of the books sold in bookstores are gifts.
I've been wracking my brain lately as to why everyone has this fevered desire to be published. Why, despite the obvious impossiblity of it all, so many people crave it. Why? Especially if in the offchance you are published, and the offchance someone randomly picks your book off the shelf and buys it, there is still only a 50% chance the person will read the damn thing!
Is it our need to leave something behind? I think a big fear people have is dying and having nothing to show for themselves, nothing that will remind the world that they existed in the first place. Is it this? The fear of mortality?
Do writers believe being published will solidify they have talent? Do writers hope their words will improve others lives? Do writers crave fame, money, esteem? What? WHY is it something people bleed over and literally pour out their heart and soul over? Why have so many authors (even successful ones) committed suicide?
And seriously, 50%??