How many books can I expect to sell?

How many books can I expect to sell

How many books can an author be expected to sell when self-publishing?

How many books do you want to sell?

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Before we get into numbers, how many books do you want to sell? How many would make you happy, would you consider successful? Is it a single number, like a thousand copies, or is it on a monthly basis, like 20 a month? Is it based upon how many people you’re reaching or how much income your books will give you? Deciding why you want to sell will help you figure out the best way to move forward from here.

How many books does the average self-published author sell?

Now the numbers. Catherine Ryan Howard sums up what the average self-published author sells to get their income in her great book Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing:

Copies sold per month:

100+  Your book is selling

300+  Your book is selling well

500+  Your book is selling very well

1000+ Your book is selling amazingly well

2500+ Your book is selling ridiculously well

5000+ Your book is selling better than most traditionally published books

10000+ HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?! Tell us now!Catherine Ryan Howard

In this study 49% of authors claim they sell between 0-5 books on a regular day while less than half a percent (that’s 0.5%) authors state they sell more than 1,000 books on a regular day. A third of authors reported they don’t cross the $50 threshold in earnings for their book- in a month.

Across the standard lifetime of a book you may sell 2,000 copies. Federico Pistono cuts the crap and guesstimates pretty accurately that you’ll get a total profit off that book of $11,200.

Average sales data in 2017 for eBook sales and paperback sales thanks to Author Earnings:

US ebook Sales By Genre (Top 10):

Literature and Fiction

  • Share of units: 70+ million
  • Share of revenue: $330+ million

Mystery, Thriller and Suspense

  • Share of units: 35+ million
  • Share of revenue: $187+ million

Romance

  • Share of units: 50+ million
  • Share of revenue: $162+ million

Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Share of units: 18+ million
  • Share of revenue: $81+ million

Business and Money

  • Share of units: 4+ million
  • Share of revenue: $41+ million

Religion and Spirituality

  • Share of units: 6+ million
  • Share of revenue: $36+ million

Teen and Young Adult

  • Share of units: 7+ million
  • Share of revenue: $34+ million

Biographies and Memoirs

  • Share of units: 4+ million
  • Share of revenue: $33+ million

Health, Fitness and Dieting

  • Share of units: 4+ million
  • Share of revenue: $30+ million

History

  • Share of units: 3+ million
  • Share of revenue: $29+ million

It’s interesting that romance sold more but earned less than Mystery, Thriller and Suspense. And Teen and Young Adult Fiction sold almost twice as much as Business and Money, yet earned seven million dollars less.

US Online Print Sales By Genre (Top 10)

Textbooks

  • Share of units: 7+ million
  • Share of revenue: $400+ million

Children’s Books

  • Share of units: 41+ million
  • Share of revenue: $320+ million

Business and Money

  • Share of units: 7+ million
  • Share of revenue: $168+ million

Literature and Fiction

  • Share of units: 14+ million
  • Share of revenue: $165+ million

Science and Math

  • Share of units: 4+ million
  • Share of revenue: $155+ million

Medical Books

  • Share of units: 3+ million
  • Share of revenue: $141+ million

Specialty Boutique

  • Share of units: 2+ million
  • Share of revenue: $135+ million

Health, Fitness and Dieting

  • Share of units: 8+ million
  • Share of revenue: $126+ million

Arts and Photography

  • Share of units: 6+ million
  • Share of revenue: $112+ million

Political and Social Sciences

  • Share of units: 5+ million
  • Share of revenue: $110+ million

Print sales in publishing is where the money is made. More specifically in the non-fiction/educational categories. Business and Money shipped three million more copies and jumped from 41 million dollars to a take in of over 168 million dollars.

Don’t feel disillusioned or discouraged if your books aren’t selling enormous numbers. On the Kindleboards forum for self-published authors it’s common for a new author to open a thread sharing their disappointment of only having sold 100 copies of their book in the first couple of months. It takes the rest of the community to bring home the reality for them that for their first book 100 copies in the first two months is insanely good.

Sold a book

Keep at it. These are numbers and represent an average. Use the data to your benefit, don’t be afraid of it. It’s here to help you.

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