Home > Writing > Realistic Expectations about Book Sales

Realistic Expectations about Book Sales

This one’s for for the would-be writers out there. It’s about how much you’re going to sell off that first book (or second, third, fourth, etc.). I know you’re curious because I sure was when I got into this! In fact, I kept harassing my publisher about it hoping there was some magic number that would guarantee me success and crisp one hundred dollar bills I could light my cigars with. As a sneak preview, no hundreds yet and no cigars either.

So what can you expect to see by way of sales? Assuming your luck is average, it depends on a few key variables. 1) How good is your cover art? That’s what sucks people in and makes them want to know more since you will not have a brand built up yet. 2) How good is your book blurb? After the cover this is what people read next (well, most of them). If your blurb interests them then you might just have a sale as long as your pricing isn’t outrageous. 3) Do you have any reviews / ratings on your book? If other people read it and liked it (and are willing to publicly admit it), that makes it a lot more likely somebody else is going to give it a shot.

That’s it. Three things that matter to the first time writer, independently published or via a publisher. Advertising is a great way to bring attention to your book, but you need the first two and possibly the third as well to really close the deal. Other means of drawing attention to yourself and your book (aka branding) is via blogging, tweeting, social media sites, etc.. Of course getting people to find those is another story (and another post) altogether.

What makes me an expert to talk about this? Not a damn thing – these are just observations I’ve made. I’m still very much in the branding phase myself and trying to build up a cult – er, loyal following – of people willing to check my stuff out. I’ve got a few good reviews here and there, but I’m always after more. I’ve had some great artists in the past and I’m working with more currently, so that helps as well.

But I didn’t give a number, did I? Nope, and that’s the most frustrating part of this. Realistically for a new title with no brand built up, figure less than 20 books in the debut month (more likely less than 10, unless you’ve got a big family / lots of friends). Sales drop after that unless it’s followed up with some very active promoting or another book. Find people who like your genre and tell them about it, give them the links, and don’t ever stop trying to keep the ball rolling.

Now back to freezing my cajones off because the spare lighter is locked in the truck and my family is asleep in the tent where the keys are. No campfire, no coffee. Around 60 degrees and me in sweat pants and a tank top. Brr.

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