A Drake Equation for Hard Science Fiction

In an effort to estimate just how astonishingly rich and famous I am going to become from my Sci-Fi writing, I decided to calculate the potential readership of my books; a sort of Drake Equation for Hard Sci-Fi.

Let’s look at the terms:

R, Number of technically advanced readers
This is the magic number we are looking for; the higher the better!


p, Rate of people formation on Planet Earth
As I am new to the market, I don’t need to rely on new people being born, let’s just make this easy and go with the current population of the planet. We do need to remove kids,(25%) so I will go with a nice round 6 Billion.


r, Fraction of population who can read
As my books are not translated into other languages, here we need to restrict ourselves to those who can read English. 20% of the world speak English, and of these 75% can read (as with the actual Drake Equation, these figures are estimates). We are down to 900 Million. Looking pretty good! But, just to be on the safe side, I will wait a few more terms before putting in my order for a Lamborghini!


f, Fraction of readers where reading of fiction actually occurs
From studies in this area, averaging between men and women, it looks like approximately 50% read at least one book/year.


B, Number of books read per year by each reading individual
The numbers are getting less precise, but studying a few articles on the topic, it seems the average reader reports that they read about 4 books/year. About half of these are fiction.

Whoa! We are at 2.2Billion books/year. Forget the Lambo, I’m going to talk to Richard Branson about buying an Island!


fs, Fraction of books read that are Science Fiction
Here it gets tricky. We don’t have a very scientific classification system for genres. Some studies claim 25% of people read Sci-Fi, but these often lump in fantasy (which is clearly corrupt!). It seems that out of the ‘Speculative Fiction’ bucket, only 20% is actually science fiction.


fhs, Fraction of Sci-Fi readers who enjoy Hard-Science Fiction
We pair-down our readers again here. Of the remaining science fiction readers, the majority seem to head for Science Fantasy (Star Wars) or military space opera. Actual Hard Sci-Fi seems to be about 5% (based on a back of the envelope calculation comparing the sales rank between Science Fiction and Hard Science Fiction on Amazon)
We are still at 2.2 Million books/year.


ftw, Fraction who have heard of me (…or you if you use your numbers below)
Unfortunately, this is where things get nasty 🙁
My author page has 1000 likes on Facebook and I have 4500 followers on Twitter. So let’s say 5K out of a potential population of 900 Million. (It’s probably not quite as bad as this as many people will see my posts and tweets and not end up following me. There will also be some word of mouth, this probably scales non-linearly at some point.) To keep it simple that’s about 0.00005% of the population who have heard of me.

6000000000 * 0.2 * 0.75 * 0.5 * 2 * 0.25 * 0.2 * 0.05 * 0.0000005

Substituting these estimates and working through the equation, rounding to the nearest integer because I don’t think we can count half a person, we get 1.

One person.


I hope you bought your copy already!    😉



Writing Retreat + 2nd Annual Reader Meetup

I’m in Amsterdam all week on my annual writing retreat. I love the city: it’s mist, smoke, architecture, and art; the shops, the people, the cafes, and just the right amounts of professionally-manicured sleaze.

I think I’m done with Book Four – I don’t mean it’s written or anything crazy like that, but I am now almost 100 percent comfortable with what needs to be written. The summit is in sight folks!
(Writing this now, I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before, but… this time I really mean it! Promise!)

Tonight will be the second of our annual reader meet-ups. I’m looking forward to it! I hope to see all the same faces as last year! And hopefully some new ones.

Some words fresh from the tips of my fingers you ask? Proof of work as it were… Sure:

Abhyuday whacked the palm-frond violently across the big brown buttocks before him. A fat horsefly burst into a Pollock of ketchup and mustard against the animals glistening hide.

The bovine who had suffered the bulk of the strike’s collateral damage swung its head lethargically back and gave its assailant a long blank look.

“You are very welcome.” The buffalo herder—aka Abhyuday Narasimhan, head of the Atlantis Academy of Sciences—informed it.

And finally some mood pics:

Cross Pollination: Featured Interview with Kell Inkston

Lobster Books is linking me up with a few authors to do some cross-pollination. Continuing the series, here is an interview with Kell Inkston. In his own words, when you pick up one of Kell’s books— “be prepared for strange and mystical tales of whimsy and ultraviolence. Magical ponies and stupendous manslaughter go hand-in-hand…”

Please tell us a bit about yourself! What made you become an author and how did your life change after you published your first novel.
Heya! Name’s Kell, and I love birds, cooking, and growing things that either attract birds or are cookable.

I “work” for “the government” as an “analyst” but my true passion is writing cool novels in awesome universes. I started out at a pretty young age when I drew comics, which eventually turned into shorts, which eventually turned into novels.

I write because I enjoy it, and that’s probably the only thing in my life that hasn’t changed since I’ve started.

What is your prime reason for writing?
To improve the world, first and foremost. I feel like I’m in a weird niche motivation-wise, because I consider my stuff high concept, though it appears like regular fiction from novel to novel. My various series are interconnected and are leading up to a coherent whole (sort of like The Avengers) and that’s where I’ll get the big payoff.

What is your favorite Sci-Fi book series?
Asimov’s Foundation series. Unbeatable in civilization-level intrigue even to this day.

How about your favorite Sci-Fi character?
An almost impossible question, but if I had to say right now I’ll cheese it and go with Legion from Mass Effect 2. I’m a little surprised myself putting it as my number one videogames as a medium are often hindered in the writing department, but I love robot characters with complex personalities, and Legion pulled up some excellent ideas.

One piece of advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors?
Work stupid-hard and you’ll make it. It doesn’t matter what you write; you’ll get there if you push hard enough.

If you want to advance your career, write. When you’re unable to write, read. When you’re unable to read, go on youtube and watch videos of authors doing it right. You decide the speed.

Jedi, Sith, or Mandalorians?
Mandalorians are cool (not sure about the new Disney+ show, though) and make up a large percentage of the Star Wars universe’s most badass characters.

I’m sort of a square, though, so I’ll ultimately say Jedi if I had to pick which one I’d be.

Awesome! Thanks for doing this interview!

You can find more about Kell and his books at his website:
Kell Inkston’s website

and on his Facebook Reader Group.