Earlier this month author Kameron Hurley posted this writeup of what an author can reasonably expect in terms of sales numbers throughout the lifetime of a book. It’s interesting reading and I recommend it, just on general principles of managing your expectations if you’re trying to get something published.
Now, mind you, she’s focusing on traditional publishing on this post. But she refers to a couple of numbers I want to call out that are of particular interest to me. This:
The average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime (Publishers Weekly, 2006).
And also this:
The average traditionally published book which sells 3,000 in its entire lifetime in print only sells about 250-300 copies its first year.
Now let me throw you a couple of numbers for Faerie Blood, which is hands down my best-selling title to date.
I do not have complete and accurate numbers for sales of Faerie Blood‘s Drollerie Press edition, given that I was never given a complete accounting of all the sales I’m pretty sure it made. My best estimates are that between 2009 and 2011, it scored somewhere between 300 and 500 sales.
Faerie Blood‘s second edition, released to public sale following my 2012 Kickstarter, is closing in on the 1,000 sales mark as of this writing. My spreadsheet that I use to track sales currently has a total of 932 sales in it.
This means that overall, since its original release in 2009, Faerie Blood has achieved somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 sales.
Which in turn means that it has achieved somewhere around the vicinity of half the sales that a traditionally published book can expect in its lifetime.
And so far, I’m still regularly selling copies. Since Faerie Blood‘s second edition release, I have not gone a single month without selling at least one copy on Amazon.com. And sometime in the next few months, maybe even before the end of the year, it’s very plausible that I will hit the 1,000 sales mark for the second edition all by itself.
Would I have done better if I’d chosen to pursue traditional publishing with this book? Possibly. Possibly not. But I am very grateful that the book’s done as well as it has, particularly as a self-published title. Many thanks to all who have bought it, and who continue to support it by spreading the word to friends and/or posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s numbers like these that encourage me to continue carving out my tiny little space in the vast world of online publishing–because, slowly but surely, y’all are finding my stories.
And I hope you’ll stick around for more.