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I'm wondering how realisitc or possible it is to sell 5000 copies of one book in one year as a brand-new author?

Let's assume the writing is good and the cover is markettable ( ;D ), what would be required to accomplish this (such as marketing) and what would you budget for marketing?

I am not a fast writer, but I estimate that 5000 copies sold would cover a year's worth of bills for me.

If 5000 copies is no big deal, how realistic would 10,000 copies be?! :p
 

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Not realistic at all. I'm not saying it has never happened, but those cases are anomalies.

And spending a lot of ad dollars on a first book just isn't a good idea. It still has to be done or else no one will ever find your book but generally speaking, ad dollars work better when you have multiple books. For example, you advertise the first in a series and get sell through on the rest.

Most new authors will only sell in the hundreds their first year out, if that. Frankly, most of them will be less than that.

The competition is brutal, so this isn't necessarily a reflection on someone's product. And depending on the genre you are writing in, breaking out is really, really, hard.
 

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Is this the only book you'll publish? In what genre? What type of cover will you get? What's your marketing plan?

Selling 5k books of a single book, at full price, as a new author is very unrealistic. It's possible, but it's highly unlikely.

Now, if you're selling a trilogy, in a hot genre, with great covers, and a solid strategy for pushing book one...

That's a lot more likely.
 

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All I can share with you is my experience as a new author.
I published my first book in late May, and (because I had lots of material) my second book just a few days ago. So it's not a full year but just about five months.

I spend money advertising. I hired local artists to create unique covers. To be fair, those covers might not be selling the books for me. I've also spent money on an editor. Another key element, which somebody else already mentioned is genre. My books are more or less zombie horror - which is probably not the most popular genre.  Considering all of those things, I am in the hole.

I've sold over 150 books so far, which is about a book per day.

One thing that I've been told, is that you will likely not see ROI until you have published at least three books.

I wish you all the best, though!  :D
 

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It's certainly not impossible, and off the top of my head I can name at least 4 indie authors who were able to do it.  However, they all began publishing around 7 or 8 years ago.  It was difficult to sell 5K of a debut novel in Year 1 back then, and I'd wager it's even harder now.

In short, while it isn't impossible, it is highly improbable.  Thus, in addition to all the usual factors - great story, great cover, etc. - I'd also say you need a healthy dollop of luck.

 

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Yeah, it would be really hard for a single book to hit those kind of numbers, and the times where it does happen are usually some kind of anomaly.  Maybe it's an author who just nailed a trend right before it became popular, or something that hit all the right keywords on amazon and became highly visible, or a lot of times it's someone who came into the book world with an established audience.  The common trend for these kind of out-of-the-gate sellers is that they're not competing with every other book out there.  A book that slides in on a new trend might become big because people are actively searching for that trend.  Or someone with an audience (like an actor or musician or youtube person or something) already will have their book pushed by that audience, so they're not really competing with every other author in their genre.

I hope your book does great, really do  ;D  I just think it's not realistic to stick a book on amazon and watch it go.  Everything involved in the book thing takes time.  Even something like doing your keywords isn't cut and dry.  I always find myself logging them, changing them, and trying to keep track of what works and what doesn't.

I'm sure people here will have a lot of advice about how to really get sales up.  There's a lot of posters on the forum who are great with marketing, and definitely way better than me.  But, all I really want to tell you is that most of the time the book game is an exercise in patience, writing more books, and not necessarily expecting the world.

Good luck with everything, and congrats on getting the book done!  That's the huge, huge step.
 

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I'll be happy if I sell 200 honestly.  I just published my book this week, and I've sold like 10 copies organically (ie, not friends who preordered).  I'm still really new to this thing, but the real way to make money on Amazon seems to be via Kindle Unlimited.  I'm making like $5-6 a day (after ad costs) thank to my KENP reads.
 

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For an experienced author with a new pen name in a genre that accepts standalone books, it's doable. For a brand new author with no experience it's extremely unrealistic. Your marketing ROI will be a lot lower, because you won't have other books to generate read-though, and a lot of readers will hesitate to touch a series book by a new author until there are at least three books available.
 

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.

Keep the day job.

I haven't checked in a couple of years but authors are adding One Million (like the Dr Evil meme) new titles to Amazon every year.

Writing is like Fishing ... "They call it Fishing because if you always caught something they'd call it Catching."

.
 

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Based on my experience with my first book published on Amazon, you are better off investing as little as possible in the beginning. Get a decent cover and focus on the blurb. I published my book on 8/20 and I have made decent money because my investment was low. I took the profits from the first book and paid for an editor for the second.

 

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For a first time author, I think that 5,000 paid sales would be a very big deal. Make sure to log all of your goals, so you can see where you stand after 3 months, 6 months, a year. Good luck with your publishing journey. I would genuinely love for you to hit 5,000 sales.
 

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It's certainly possible. I did it, for one, and many other people have as well. (I sold 2,000 books my first month and 100,000 books by Month 11 as a new, unknown writer, but that was in 2012-2013.) It's very unlikely, especially in the current, highly competitive market, but it's possible. People are still doing it.

ETA: I certainly wouldn't call it "realistic," but I would guess it depends on the book and your marketing ability/spend. And especially on how the book aligns with what the market wants right now.
 

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If you are like most starting indie authors, you will be fortunate to sell 5000 books in several years.

There are some genres where, if you have excellent books with excellent (i.e. expensively produced) covers, and you advertise, you may be able to reach that 5K sales figure earlier on.

The best thing to do is aim high, but also be realistic in your expectations. Most authors see more traction once they have a few books out there, and learn the ropes of marketing.

By all means aim high, though. You will need that level of enthusiasm to continue on and build your readership. It's been said before by authors here on KB that indie publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to be in it for the long term.
 

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Reading this post reminds of the many business cash flow forecast plans I've evaluated for new businesses over the years.

While the start up costs and ongoing expenses are pretty reliable if researched, especially ongoing fixed costs, projected turnover is a stab in the dark and only in very rare instances where contracts are signed for their products or services do they meet targets, or say where someone buys an established business. A high percentage go bust in that first year which is why banks ask for security if loans are involved. Publishing would be no different in terms of going bust if it were not that the majority have a first income to pay the bills and enough spare funds to take it to publication.

Is it possible to sell 5000 books for a first book in the first year, - yes, but the likely marketing budget to achieve that would more than likely result in a heavy loss unless you are extremely lucky. Fortunately ads are a variable expense and can be stopped at any time to save you from falling into the abys money wise.

I don't know what the figure is these days, but it used to be said the 250 or less per year for a trad-published book was the average and 30 per year for self-published.

Around 2 million books are published every year. MFounder in 2015 quoted that 95% of these books sell less than 100 per year. Estimates are that books selling more than 5,000 per year range from 1000 to 25,000 depending on criteria.

JHP the publishers in a blog post say that their books average 1500 sales over a lifetime and that takes account of a few selling tens of thousands over the books lifetime.

Are 5,000 sales unrealistic in the circumstances put forward? I would say so. If I were a bank considering a start up loan, I would probably reject the proposal.

Welcome to Self-publishing and good luck with your efforts
 

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If I only knew what I knew then ... You know, your first book will actually have great possibilities because you're completely new. The problem is that there is so much to learn in marketing--nearly as much as writing a book. I know my first book would have been far more successful had I known what I know now. So, marketing wise, I'd say you'd have to know what experienced indie writers know to hit these numbers (I'm still learning). This is why, imo, a traditional publisher can take a new writer much further. Here's what you have to do:

You have to write something to market. Your cover has to be killer. Your writing has to be good enough to interest people from beginning to "the end". Your price has to be right. You have to do something original, but not too original (I hate this one).

Can 5k be done? Yes. I'm an optimist. That's why I'm crazy enough to be doing this stuff. But I'd focus on writing multiple books. Number wise, I think 500 would be more realistic and still a good 1st year newbie author goal. You'll sell more the following years. I don't mean to discourage. The ride is still worth it. Good luck!
 

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alhawke said:
You have to write something to market. Your cover has to be killer. Your writing has to be good enough to interest people from beginning to "the end". Your price has to be right. You have to do something original, but not too original (I hate this one).
It's not about being 'not too original', it's about being 'the same but different'. Giving people the same kind of experience that they've enjoyed before. That's pretty much why genres exist -- so people can find more books like the books they've already enjoyed.
 

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ShayneRutherford said:
It's not about being 'not too original', it's about being 'the same but different'. Giving people the same kind of experience that they've enjoyed before. That's pretty much why genres exist -- so people can find more books like the books they've already enjoyed.
The same but different is fine if that's what you want to do, but is it some golden rule? I can think of many successful books that if you asked me what genre they were, I'd say, huh, that's a tough one.

The important thing might be knowing the plusses and minuses before you go into it. Writing something "not too original" will probably help with your marketing. It's easy to say that your book is something people like with a twist. So, something original might be harder, but who said this writing thing was going to be easy? I find this view very limiting, on purpose, and I just think that if you set out to limit yourself, you should know what you are getting into. No one ever innovated by setting out to do something that wasn't innovative. No one ever set out to do the "same but different" and came out with something that really touched people. It might be easier sell a book that blends into the crowd, but bare in mind, some people would rather make a rainbow that maybe no one ever sees.

I'm not saying that this, "not too original" thing is a bad sentiment. In fact, it's good marketing. But saying things like this as, this is what you need to do, is misleading. It's a choice that can be successful. I just wonder what happens if you write to market and then your book still doesn't move very well? If that happened, then you'd be left with no good reason to write.
 

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I often write blended-genre. It works for me sales-wise. I work hard to show with cover and title what the tone of the book will be.
 

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I think the same but different and original but not too original are expressing the same idea.

Your book needs to give readers what they already know they want, plus something they don't yet realize they want.

Novelty can do well but so can books with no originality. It depends on your genre and niche. IME, what most authors consider original is really out there to most readers, but there are authors who like same and readers who like different.

I agree it's totally possible for a new pen name to sell 5k copies (with a marketing plan and budget), but a new author will need to learn so much to get to the point where they write, package, and market well enough.
 
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