Wednesday, October 29, 2014
How Many Books Am I Really Going to Sell?
New York Time's best selling pictures books, less than 10,000. New York Time's best selling middle grade books, less than 20,000.
I shouldn't have been surprised. A few months before the conference I submitted to a publisher who asked for comparibles. I didn't list best sellers, but books I thought were the most similar to mine and would have similar sales. I was told that one book I had listed as a comp, published by one of the Big Five publishers, so far had sold less than 500 copies, after two years on the market. That is not a typo. A YA dystopian, the first in a triology that was published in it's entirety, put out by one of the Big Five publishers, sold less than 500 copies in it's first two years of sales.
I came to learn these numbers came from BookScan, and do not actually include all sales, but are a good indication of sales in general. I also learned talking about average sales numbers is tricky, but for traditionally published authors, "The average sale of a hardback book by a first-time writer is 400 copies." (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/mar/25/fiction.features7) And it's worse for those who are self-published. Sales "average out to around 54 sales per title." (http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/2009/03/sales-statistics.html)
Yes, I found it difficult to come up with current numbers, but if anything I suspect competition has increased and sales numbers are even lower now.
For the new writer, what this means is you can't write a book and hope it will sell. You have to get out there and sell it. If you want writing to be your profession, not only do you have to be a good writer, you must be a serious business person. Probably as important as improving one's writing is learning and implementing smart marketing techniques.
Posted by Rondi Olson