Google this and the answer will be some variation of "pretty low." Mr. Bane prefers real answers. So, let's do some quick math:
Each year, there are roughly 100 roster spots open for new players (via the draft, older players retiring, etc.).
The max lifespan of a basketball player is roughly 20 years, so for a particular wannabe, there are potentially 2,000 spots available (that's 100 roster spots/year * 20 years). Stick with
Now, assume there are 1,000,000 kids who want to make it to the NBA and the answer to the bolded question would be: 100*2,000/1,000,000 = 0.2%.
In reality, this is EXTREMELY optimistic. First, there are way more than 1,000,000 grunts out there who dream big. Next, your chances of making it to the NBA outside of the age range 18 - 22 are almost 0. Third, unless you're a FoN (Freak of Nature), your chances are further reduced. So, let's divide that 0.2% by a factor of 100. That gives us a still highly optimistic chance of 0.002%
Now, on the bright side, one can still play basketball and make a living. Play in one of the minor leagues or in Europe. Mr. Bane has a friend who played in a British league. He didn't get paid much and needed an extra job (as a Nurse), but he was still a professional of some sort. A mid-list basketball player.
SEGUE -- This odds breakdown is, of course, analogous to what writers face. In our battle to become relevant, here's what we've got in our favor over the hoopsters:
- We don't have age limits.
- There's a much larger market (according to Wikipedia, about 172,000 books are published each year in the US) for authors than hoopsters.
Here's what we've got against us:
- The pool of competitors for publication is potentially significantly (that's 2 adverbs for the 2 orders of magnitude) larger than the one for basketball roster spots.
- The payoff is significantly lower - almost every NBAer is a millionaire; almost every author (even some who've hit the NYT lists) needs a second job.
- Fewer people are reading, or at least willing to pay for reading.
This is grand simplification, but Bane put the odds of becoming an independent author (i.e., one who can support oneself without secondary means) at 0.001%, or 1 in 100,000.
Replace independent with successful, and the odds change, depending on how you define success. If you're never published, but happy in what you write, your odds are 100%. Is that good enough? Are you playing for the love of the game? What are your goals? Remember, not everyone who climbs the mountain, no matter how hard they perseverate, will get there. Some will perish. Don't let the destination destroy the journey.