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susangpyp
02-25-2010, 11:13 PM
How well a book is selling is definitely a mystery to most authors. I know that I have researched this topic over and over again. I still can't get a handle on how well a book has to sell to do well. Perhaps it's different for different genres? Different authors?

Are 10,000 copies sold in the first year of a first-time author's book a good number? Do reviews matter to publishers or is it only sales?

I'm interested in this because I'm writing the proposal for the second book (which is a followup of the first) and want to know how much to say or not say about the first book's sales and reviews. Thanks everyone!

cameron_chapman
02-25-2010, 11:31 PM
I think it depends on what the advance is more than anything. For a small press that only pays out a couple thousand dollars for an advance (if even that much), 10,000 copies might be phenomenal. But if it's a big publisher and they've paid out a six-figure advance (or even a five-figure advance), 10,000 probably isn't going to get you another contract.

Also, I think a lot of publishers look at sales over a much shorter time period than the first year, especially the larger ones. They want to see how it sells over the first couple of months. And unless sales are increasing over that time, it's likely the book will be remaindered well before a year is up. (I'm talking about the larger publishers here. I realize most of the smaller ones are often willing to give a book a longer shot at making money.)

Emily Winslow
02-26-2010, 03:01 AM
I just read a terrific post on the subject, at Backspace:

http://www.bksp.org/content/view/167/2/

Paul
02-26-2010, 03:16 AM
I just read a terrific post on the subject, at Backspace:

http://www.bksp.org/content/view/167/2/

tnx :)

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2010, 03:42 AM
Make your publisher a decent profit. That's healthy booksales. Ten thousand books sold is pretty good, if you received a $2,500 advance, and incredibly lousy if you received a $100,000 advance.

Mostly, it's about publisher expectations. If books similar to yours usually sell fifty thousand copies, then ten thousand is going to be bad. If books similar to yours usually sell five thousand copies, then ten thousand looks pretty darned good.

The main thing is to pay back your advance, and to have each book sell a little better than the last until you're selling in really big numbers.

susangpyp
02-26-2010, 03:47 AM
That article was helpful. Im not a math genius (or even close) so bear with me.

So if my publisher sold 10,000 copies at 14.95 cover price (or on Amazon it's selling at like 10.19 but that's just a percentage of all sales), and they gave me a 15k advance, they have made money but I (at an 8 percent royalty agreement and then 15 percent to my agent) haven't yet earned more than my advance.

So while I probably haven't made anything beyond the advance, my publisher is probably okay with the sales. Yes? No?

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-26-2010, 07:53 AM
Your advance is the amount of royalties they estimate your book is going to earn. Anything after that is a lovely bonus. So if you only earn out your advance then the publisher's happy. If you don't quite earn it out (which I believe is pretty common), it's still not a failure. If you don't even come close, well that's most likely a failure.

LuckyH
02-26-2010, 01:57 PM
Ah well, time’s a great healer, isn’t it?

I got an advance of £4,800 for my first book, which sold 22,000 copies. The next two sold slightly more. And then the wheel fell off.

I clawed my way back to the twenty-thousands again, after some amazing skulduggery, not all of my own making, but when I look in the mirror nowadays I sometimes have to say to myself, “Who the fuck are you today?”

Emily Winslow
02-26-2010, 04:27 PM
So if my publisher sold 10,000 copies at 14.95 cover price (or on Amazon it's selling at like 10.19 but that's just a percentage of all sales), and they gave me a 15k advance, they have made money but I (at an 8 percent royalty agreement and then 15 percent to my agent) haven't yet earned more than my advance.

So while I probably haven't made anything beyond the advance, my publisher is probably okay with the sales. Yes? No?

This is as I understand, but I'm new at this so please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong!

Your royalty should, in general, be off the cover price, regardless of the discount at which an individual copy is sold. For example, if you have a ten percent royalty, I believe you get 2.50 for every hardcover listed at 25 dollars, even if it was sold for less. (This is a very basic generalization, since contracts can stipulate changing percentages based on copies sold, and maybe even a different rate for certain kinds of discount sales. But I think this is the basic truth.)

Your agent's 15 percent doesn't affect earning out your advance. It affects what you take home, but just as s/he took 15 percent out of your advance s/he now takes 15 percent out of your royalties. As far as the publisher is concerned, they paid X advance and X royalties, and how you and your agent divide it is none of their concern.

The point at which your publisher makes money, and whether that takes place before the point at which you earn out your advance, depends on how much they've spent on the book, in terms of salaries for all those who worked on your book, marketing and printing expenses, etc. It is, I think, unknowable.

Moonrat at Editorial Ass has some interesting stuff to say on the subject:
http://editorialass.blogspot.com/2009/11/whats-difference-between-earning-out-my.html
and
http://editorialass.blogspot.com/2009/12/author-question-what-does-it-mean-that.html

susangpyp
02-26-2010, 05:32 PM
thanks everyone. As I said, I'm working on the proposal for the follow-up book (my pub has first option) and I'm not sure how much to mention sales and good reviews.

Irysangel
02-26-2010, 07:13 PM
thanks everyone. As I said, I'm working on the proposal for the follow-up book (my pub has first option) and I'm not sure how much to mention sales and good reviews.

I'm a little confused as to why you would mention the sales and the good reviews -- I mean, your pub should KNOW all that stuff already, right?

HConn
02-26-2010, 08:32 PM
thanks everyone. As I said, I'm working on the proposal for the follow-up book (my pub has first option) and I'm not sure how much to mention sales and good reviews.

A couple weeks ago, my editor sent me a list of all the good reviews and "best of 2009" lists my book was on, asking me if she'd missed any. I compiled a short list from review magazine and such, not reader's blogs and sent them to her. All those good reviews are important for their marketing.

In fact, the Del Rey Internet Newsletter, and my book was mentioned in it five months after publication because of a new "best of" listing.

Share the info.

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2010, 08:54 PM
Publishers don't necessarily stay happy just because your books pay back the advances, unless, of course, the advances are truly HUGE. Merely paying off ordinary advances generally earns you the label of midlist writer, and that, eventually, is probably death.

Profit is a good thing, but a two dollar profit is still just two bucks. Over time, your books need to earn enough profit to stop a publisher from getting the crazy idea that dropping you for a new writer might earn them more money.