Note for this post the definition of reading is the second one discussed in this post.
A lot of people wonder what makes agents and editors tick. Or more specifically, what about the jobs warps us into our peculiar jaded mass.
Let’s start with the proto-agent or proto-editor who is an avid reader. They read the equivalent of one 100,000 word book a week, minimum. That’s all fun reading, and probably edited and written at a passable level. Over the course of a year, that translates into 5,200,000 words, give or take. Well less than some of the book a day folks, but more than enough that bookstores, even chain ones, probably know them by name.
An editor or agent, as a matter of course will end up going through 10 book equivalents a month, also as a minimum. If you break that out to four new things, two things read and touched twice before, one thing edited/reviewed once before and a couple dozen book parts, you begin to get a picture. This doesn’t include; email, instant messengers, social media, cover blurbs, contacts, marketing plans, blogs, queries, outlines, synopses, books read for market analysis, book reviews, and whatever other miscellany of the day might be required to do the job on any given day. If you assume a low 3000 words a day of non-book reading and 260 day work year you’ve got just about 800,000 words. That’s another eight book equivalents.
So a low balled rough total would be about 13,000,000 work related words a year. That’s 130 book equivalents a year. Be amazed when they remember any particular of anything written and only have a few hangups about what they hate in writing.
Just as an example, between novels, proposals, outlines, and the like between 8/19 and 8/23 when I wrote this, I went through about 250-270k words.