View Full Version : First Printing/How Many Copies

01-26-2009, 10:05 AM
Someone just told me that the average number of copies for a first print run is 3,000. Does that sound right? I'm sure it varies from publisher to publisher (and on their size). Would anyone like to share how big their first printing was? I know the important thing is selling through all those, but it's interesting how the publisher comes up with that number...how much 'faith' they have in you as an author/book.

(I couldn't find a thread on this although I have the sneaking suspicion there is one...somewhere.)

01-26-2009, 11:07 AM
Both my publishers use POD printers. They print only the number to satisfy their immediate needs.

01-26-2009, 02:03 PM
Thanks Mumut! It seems nowadays this is probably the norm. Maybe?

01-26-2009, 05:51 PM
I found some scary statistic on line -

“950,000 titles of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies.”
-- Publisher’s Weekly, July 17, 2006

That doesn't sound too encouraging, does it. POD is more expensive to produce than standard printing, but you won't be faced with the potential problem of unsold books. But, on the other side of the coin, a higher price for the book pushed by POD costs will affect sales. Not a easy decision to make. Puma

01-26-2009, 06:15 PM
It completely depends. A small press might do 500 - 1000 copies. A larger press with a first time author might do 20,000. But it completely depends on the publisher, the genre, and how well they expect the book to do.

And trying to get print run numbers out of the publisher can be a trick in itself.

01-27-2009, 01:52 AM
Puma, wow, those are scary. Truly scary.

JChines, that's interesting that the publisher might not even want to tell the author. I guess it does totally make sense that they would vary so much. But I sit here and imagine some editor with some complicated equation as to how many copies he'll think they can sell. Or then I think, maybe it's totally a gut feeling.

Thank you all for commenting.


01-27-2009, 02:08 AM
It varies.

Here's a Publishers Weekly link regarding January releases and their approximate print runs. Keep in mind, these numbers are typically guestimates, but it'll give you a range, at least for the major houses.

A few hightlights:

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's, $27.95). 2 million copies.
On the Grind: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell (St. Martin's, $25.95). 100,000 copies.
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (Little, Brown, $24.99). 75,000 copies.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet, $12.95). 1 million copies.


01-27-2009, 03:49 AM
Jamie, that is great. Oh, to be Grisham--2.8 million copies. Thanks a bunch.


01-27-2009, 08:40 AM
Happy to help. :)

01-27-2009, 01:54 PM
I can't tell you how many (I thought) creative Google searches I did. Never thought to go directly to Publisher's Weekly. You may be a genius.


01-27-2009, 06:09 PM
Thanks for the information on this, I was wondering what the print run can be expected for an unknown author on a debut novel. :D