Money, Books and Other Statistics
During the last few days, I read through my blogroll, checked some links and made a few modifications. I don’t get to this task as often as I would like but I learned a great deal from the exercise. Several months ago, I exchanged links with Big Bad Book Blog from the Greenleaf Book Group. They have some interesting articles if you haven’t checked this one in some time.
I stumbled across this article from Justin Branch called, “How Much Money Do Most Authors Make? And Other Provocative Industry Stats.” Occasionally authors will ask me about how to find sales numbers and other information for their book proposal creation. Sales numbers are good to include, if you can get them. You will quickly discover that some publishers are more liberal with this information than others. I’ve found most of the time, it’s a challenge to find such information.
What I found attractive from this article was not only the information from Branch but that he included the basic website links where he located the data. Notice his opening paragraph begins with a large caveat about the statistical information in the article? I was interested to see the quotation from the Authors Guild: “A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.” The figure that I’ve heard is often less and that anything over 5,000 is good. The last time I mentioned this figure during my teaching at a writer’s conference several large gasps came from the audience since they figured the number would be much higher. Naturally every author and publisher want to sell much more than 7,500 books. At the same time, you want to feel good about how your book compares to other titles and it’s a number to keep in mind. One of the keys from my view is to find different ways to bring the book in front of your audience.
I appreciated Branch’s key takeaway from these numbers: “The most important thing to take away from this is that the book industry is a competitive one. To have a shot, a book must be well written, well packaged, well distributed, and well marketed. Above all, the book needs an audience and that audience must want the book.”
Speaking of competition, for several days this week my Straight Talk from the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission (the Amazon Short) was in the number one spot for best-selling Shorts. It’s an instant download in a PDF file. If you haven’t picked it up, I’d encourage you to do it—and whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
One writer picked up Straight Talk, read it and commented she felt it only applied to nonfiction writers. She wondered why I posted about it on the American Christian Fiction Writers forum. The majority of my personal examples in the Short were from my nonfiction writing. I’ve not published any novels—yet I feel that every writer can profit from learning more about how the editor thinks and processes submissions. Also whether you write fiction or nonfiction, every writer who applies the last six keys to their submission will differentiate their submission from anything else under consideration and increase the attractiveness of their submission. If you are reading Straight Talk expecting some guarantee, you will not find it. It is impossible for anyone to guarantee anything since the process is as much art as science. It’s a matter of giving each submission your best possible effort. Then maybe you can beat some of these statistics.