Ratio of SF Readers to Writers

Someone just forwarded one of those funny emails that proves that the number of people who enjoy Jazz is actually less than the number of people who want to play Jazz.

It occurrs to me that similar arguments can be used to show that the actual number of people who enjoy pure science fiction (no zombies, demons, vampires or elves) in reality is less than the number of people who aspire to be science fiction writers.

There is lots of evidence to support this. For instance the combined subscriptions of the top science fiction magazines is well under 100,000 and the number of short story submissions to these magazines is pushing 50,000. It might be easy to come up with the math to show that the number of pure science fictions fans who subscribe to science fiction magazines is less than the number of people submitting stories to science fiction magazines. What remains is to factor in the submission rates at all the SF magazines on Ralan’s website and compare that to the number of page views they get for their stories as compared to their submission guidelines pages.

I have no doubt that at least 3/4 of all of the readers of SF magazines and websites are wannabe writers, and only 1/4 of them actually read SF for pleasure.

One Comment

  1. Well, traditionally, I thought that most, if not all, fans were potential writers/artists/editors/whatever. I don’t think there was ever an either/or relationship there.

    Second, this kind of strikes me as that poll that showed that more men had more sex than women (or something), leaving the only possible answer to be that some women were having more than one extramarital affair, or something.

    One reader consumes multiple stories from a magazine, and submission is not publication, so I would expect the numbers to be out of whack a bit.

    I’ve looked at some of the numbers as well; subscriptions for the big three are WELL under 100,000. Even adding them together, which doesn’t account for any overlap. I suspect, from empirical evidence, that HARD CORE readers of SF, (meaning those folks who we think of when we say ‘fan’) is probably around 50,000, in the US. Using the law of threes, we can then say that ‘seriously interested parties’ number about 150 to 200,000. Then, if we extend it to include anyone with peripheral or non-‘fan’ based interest in things science fictional, we’re probably looking at about 2 millions.

    One useful way to get at the numbers is to look at the traffic on popular, genre-related sites and compare them to fannish sites (if you are after a ‘total numbers’ thing).

    Friday, October 2, 2009 at 5:54 am | Permalink