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  1. #1
    Scribette Smith
    Guest

    Average Number of Books sold?

    Greetings,

    Published authors, here's the scenario:

    You're a first-time author with a big publishing house behind you. Your book has not been heavily pushed - but reviews have been sent out and your book underwent a library marketing campaign.

    You haven't had much time to do your own publicity.

    That said, within two months, please give me a rough idea of how many books you should have sold. I know situations vary, but I just want a ballpark number.

    Thanks in advance!



  2. #2
    Frank Baron
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    That's simply impossible to even guesstimate. There are too many variables and it's much too short an accounting period. Your own publisher won't know how many books sold in two months.

  3. #3
    Scribette Smith
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    Not true. I was given a net sales figure. The reason I didn't post the number here is because I want answers from you guys first!

  4. #4
    larry moses
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    Who cares how many books a traditionally published authors sells? They do not have to do anything but sit back and collect the royalties.

    You should be asking that question to self-publilshed writers. lol

  5. #5
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    There's no way you could have been given a net sales figure, Scribette. What you were given was a GROSS sales figure. You have to understand a little about how bookselling works. The publisher's customer is the bookstore. That's what they consider "sales," not actual sales to customers of the bookstores. But bookstore sales include those actually on the shelf, plus what's sitting in a retailer distribution center.

    As Frank says, it's impossible to estimate actual sales to readers without having access to a point of sale list like Nielsen BookScan, which tracks by ISBN/EAN (and even that list only tracks about 60% of the market) because short of the book hitting a top selling list, there's no way to judge what was purchased out of what was shipped. See, even the publisher won't know---for up to a YEAR---how many books were purchased by end buyers out of what was shipped. And the only way to know that is after subtracting what was returned.

    Your best bet is to find out what the first print run was to see what the chances were. For genre fiction, a lot of publishers base a debut author's first print run on actual orders from bookstores +/- 10% (for re-orders). The first print run, minus that +/- 10% is what was SHIPPED. Up to a year later, when the final RETURNS come back, then the publisher will know approximately how many were sold (of course, some could have been damaged by the bookseller, which they might not claim for on a return report.)

    But to know how many were sold in a two month period after release? Nope. There's absolutely no way to know without point of sale numbers for EVERY outlet, which don't exist currently.

  6. #6
    Scribette Smith
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    Cathy,

    Ahh, you're always so full of knowledge.

    This is what my editor stated:

    we have a net sale of ___ copies.

    So what is she referring to? I'm confused.

  7. #7
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    I guess the only way I can ask that is when the book came out. Did it come out two months ago? If so, you could ask your editor whether she's counting books shipped or point of sale numbers. She'll know the difference. Most, if not all, major publisher DO have access to Nielsen. It might be that she really is referring to numbers to readers, but there's no way to judge until you ask. The lists come out weekly, but they're not completely accurate, as I said.

    Presently, the stores that Nielsen tracks are (this is to the best of my knowledge, by the way, from the last time I checked):

    B.Dalton, Barbara's Bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million (BAM), Borders, Deseret Books, Hastings, Waldens, General Independent, Follett College Stores, Amazon, B&N.com, BAM.com, Borders.com, Buy.com, CNI, CEORead.com, Cornerstone, Costco, Fatbrain.com, K-Mart, NBC.com, One World, Powells.com, Target, Kroger, Stop & Shop, Shopco, Toys R Us, Starbucks.

    So, you can see that there are some major secondary retailers who are missing from this list, like WalMart, Sam's Club, Albertsons, Safeway, etc. They sell a LOT of books. Still, most of the major bookstores are included, as well as General Independents, who is the distributor for many mom-and-pop stores.

    Right now, it's the best that's out there, so if that's where your "net" numbers are coming from, it's a pretty good indication.

    You also don't mention whether you were released in mass market, trade softcover or hardback. That will affect "average" sales numbers too.

  8. #8
    Scribette Smith
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    Gee Cathy,

    You're a walking write-o-pedia! (I'm so corny.)

    My novel is a tradepaperback. To my knowledge, that's all that was to be printed. But I checked bn.com and saw that a hardcover will be out in February - just two months after my tradepaperback came out. I'm thinking this is a good sign.

    The reason I come here instead of asking my agent is because when I indicate or ask certain things, he has a very stolid reaction. As I came off on this board way back when, he senses an eager-beaver and tries to give me the harsh side of business. However, I'm thinking that my book is doing pretty okay based on the reaction I've seen so far.

  9. #9
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    Actually, that is a pretty good sign. Many of the authors I've talked to who have trade paperback debut releases are looking at print runs of 10K-15K. That's pretty standard (for genre fiction). So, if your "net sales" are better than that, it might account for the sudden release into hardback, which has a better overall return for the publisher.

    Yes, you're entitled to a minor snoopy dance until you hear otherwise.

  10. #10
    Scribette Smith
    Guest

    Re: Average Number of Books sold?

    hmm, I might have to put my dancing shoes away. I didn't sell anywhere near 10,000 books yet. lol

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