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Have you sold more than 1,000 copies of ONE indie book?

  • Yes, more than 1,000

    Votes: 51 45.9%
  • Yes, more than 10,000

    Votes: 19 17.1%
  • Yes, more than 50,000

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • Yes, more than 100,000

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • No.

    Votes: 39 35.1%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just to clarify my poll, I'm asking about self-pubbed indie books only. (Sorry, small press and trad pubbed doesn't count in this poll.) And I'm asking about ONE book only, not all books together.

I'm very curious about this, because I've heard people lately tell me that *most* self-published authors won't sell more than 1,000 books. I'd like to know if this is true, or even close to being true. (And of course it matters how long you've been selling.)

So if you guys would indulge me, I would love to know percentages of people who have sold more than 1,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 of ONE book.

Thanks everyone! I might be using these numbers for a blog post in the future, if I get inspired. :)

Vicki

PS, You can count a book if it was trad pubbed and then turned indie, just don't count the trad pubbed numbers.
 

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But wouldn't the length of time it's been available be a factor?
Mine's been out for just over two months. I haven't reached 1000, of course, but I'm getting excellent feedback, my sales are steadily improving, and I expect to reach it at some point.
:)
 
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Victorine said:
Just to clarify my poll, I'm asking about self-pubbed indie books only. (Sorry, small press and trad pubbed doesn't count in this poll.) And I'm asking about ONE book only, not all books together.
All this will tell you is the number of KB authors who are willing to discuss how many copies they have sold.

I don't know where the 1,000 number is coming from. All the stats I've seen have put it closer to 200. But those stats have always been based on total number of books sold divide by number of actual titles. And you have to hunt for that, because most POD/ebook vendors won't actually provide both numbers in the same place. You have to be sneaky, so to speak. And watch for the numbers. I remember a few years back someone figured out Lulu.com authors sold an average of like 40-50 books. They figured it out because they used info from an interview with Bob Young about the total number of books Lulu had sold, and then divided it by information an employee said in a forum post regarding the number of active authors on the site. (The post eventually dissappeared).

You need both numbers to get a true median.
 
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Inevitable has sold almost 15,000 copies. The sequels have sold several thousand. The books in the Powerless series have sold well over a thousand or are sniffing at it, except for maybe the last one, which has only been out a month or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
modwitch said:
One number I'm curious about is what would the average debut novel from a trad-pubbed author sell? I've seen the 5K number thrown around - does anyone have a decently recent & reliable reference on this?
I'd be interested in this as well.

Vicki
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
All this will tell you is the number of KB authors who are willing to discuss how many copies they have sold.

I don't know where the 1,000 number is coming from. All the stats I've seen have put it closer to 200. But those stats have always been based on total number of books sold divide by number of actual titles. And you have to hunt for that, because most POD/ebook vendors won't actually provide both numbers in the same place. You have to be sneaky, so to speak. And watch for the numbers. I remember a few years back someone figured out Lulu.com authors sold an average of like 40-50 books. They figured it out because they used info from an interview with Bob Young about the total number of books Lulu had sold, and then divided it by information an employee said in a forum post regarding the number of active authors on the site. (The post eventually dissappeared).

You need both numbers to get a true median.
I see your point, but I do believe the authors on KB are actively promoting their books. Anyone can slap a book up on Lulu and then walk away, hoping for sales. So I guess I'm trying to get a feel for how many books people can sell if they are trying at least a little bit.

You're right though, this is definitely not a scientific poll, just a ballpark figure for my own purposes.

Vicki
 
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I think the value of threads like these is to prove that people can do it, not that they will with any relative certainty. If there's a large enough body of people seeing the numbers we're talking about here, that becomes something people can strive for, even if we're talking about the top 60-70% who get to 1,000 copies even after a number of months.
 

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Victorine said:
I see your point, but I do believe the authors on KB are actively promoting their books. Anyone can slap a book up on Lulu and then walk away, hoping for sales. So I guess I'm trying to get a feel for how many books people can sell if they are trying at least a little bit.

You're right though, this is definitely not a scientific poll, just a ballpark figure for my own purposes.

Vicki
Agree with both of you. I see a value in this type of question because there is a separation between people (like my friend KJ) who write a book, put it on Smashwords or wherever, then think that's the end. The money should come rolling in... right?

Then there's the KB authors that I've come to know. We make this a part-time (if not full-time) job and really work at responsibly promoting ourselves. We're (obviously) going to have different stats than folks like KJ.

This just gives me hope, that if I keep doing what I'm doing, I can see (based on what everyone else has done) what kind of results I could expect. Not that I'll have the same success or failure as someone else, but if I have in my head to sell two-million copies, and i see that everyone else sells about X-thousand and then sales seem to dry up and vanish, I can set my expectations appropriately and not get so disappointed in life. I can balance if the work is worth the potential with realistic expectations.

So far, so good. =)
 

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Victorine said:
I'd be interested in this as well.

Vicki
I think it's really hard to get a reliable average on this because the numbers vary widely by publisher and genre. To get that 5,000 they'd have to factor in things like text books and small press books that don't sell well at all. And a lot of numbers I've seen listed use the true sales of NYT bestsellers, which really aren't all that impressive. But they are sales made in the stores that the NYT keeps track of, over a designated amount of time. There are lots of books that outsell these titles in the long run.

I can give you the numbers on my first book, The Inconvenient Duchess, which came out in 2006. This number is current as of December 2010, includes multiple translations, and does not include any ebooks, since it is just starting to come out that way now and will be free if Harlequin ever undates the tryharlequin.com site.

And the number is still growing because HM&B is still releasing the book.

84,989

I also answered No to the poll. Nowhere near 1000 yet on the self published stuff, although I am still trying.
 
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Victorine said:
I see your point, but I do believe the authors on KB are actively promoting their books.
I agree with you. I think the community here is comprised of authors that take the craft much more serious than most self-publishers. My concern though is that new authors will look at this in a void without understanding the reasons why the number may be high. Sort of like going into a room full of supermodels and asking "How many of you have dated a rock star?" and then giving that information to teenage girls as proof that you CAN date a rock star. :eek: ;D

Just being the voice of caution, as usual. People would be dissappointed if I wasn't. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.
 

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Victorine said:
Just to clarify my poll, I'm asking about self-pubbed indie books only. (Sorry, small press and trad pubbed doesn't count in this poll.) And I'm asking about ONE book only, not all books together.

Vicki
I'm at the 700+ range right now for New World Orders, so possibly next month I will hit 1000 if sales stay identical to June (which is down from April and May)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
I agree with you. I think the community here is comprised of authors that take the craft much more serious than most self-publishers. My concern though is that new authors will look at this in a void without understanding the reasons why the number may be high. Sort of like going into a room full of supermodels and asking "How many of you have dated a rock star?" and then giving that information to teenage girls as proof that you CAN date a rock star. :eek: ;D

Just being the voice of caution, as usual. People would be dissappointed if I wasn't. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.
Hey, I think Julie just called us all supermodels!! ;D

(And I totally understand what you're saying. ;))

Vicki
 

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Hola! I've sold just under 25,000 copies of "Out of Time" so far.

I understand the concerned regarding the poll. Hopefully, it will be up long enough to get a decent cross section of KB indies. Granted, they aren't necessarily your typical indies, but still a group worth studying. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
modwitch said:
I guess the comp I'd be looking for is a genre fiction novel, debut release, maybe in the first year, to stick a length of time on it? Is there a number publishers would look at after a year and say "yeah, that book was successful", sign the next one?

This came up talking to my father ::). Having a book in the top 1,000 on amazon is meaningless to him, and I don't really have any way to compare to that might make sense for him. "I did good, Dad" isn't cutting it :D.
This is the best I can come up with so far: "She opened by stating that 83% of Americans dream of writing a book. And, in traditional publishing-i.e. the "success" stories of those who got contracts with publishing houses-7% of the books publish generate 87% of book sales. This means, she noted, that 93% of all published books sold less than 1,000 copies."

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bea/article/43296-bookexpo-america-2010-the-changing-diy-ethos.html

Vicki
 

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modwitch said:
I guess the comp I'd be looking for is a genre fiction novel, debut release, maybe in the first year, to stick a length of time on it? Is there a number publishers would look at after a year and say "yeah, that book was successful", sign the next one?

This came up talking to my father ::). Having a book in the top 1,000 on amazon is meaningless to him, and I don't really have any way to compare to that might make sense for him. "I did good, Dad" isn't cutting it :D.
This is still tricky because you get into the question of "What genre?" and "What sort of advance was paid?" and "When did it come out?" as well as my personal favorite, "How big was the print run?"

The success meter changes constantly in traditional publishing. Someone might have been published by an independent line who puts out trade paperbacks and had a print run of 10,000. That would be FABULOUS for a romance TPB. Change it to a romance MMPB? And at 10,000, someone is going to ask you to change your name and start over. So it all depends on a variety of things. I do not think there is a 'typical'.
 
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