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twiharder
08-21-2012, 07:23 PM
I hope this is an acceptable place to post this question.

I was just wondering, if you're thinking about submitting something to a small pubilsher, is it okay to ask them what their sales figures are like? Can you say, what is your top seller and how many copies have you managed to sell? Or is that a question best held until a contract is offered. For me, I didn't want to bother submitting if the top selling title is in the three figures, but perhaps it's not ok to ask.

What are your thoughts? Have any of you done this and if so what were the results?

Thanks
TH

James D. Macdonald
08-21-2012, 08:08 PM
I hope this is an acceptable place to post this question.

I was just wondering, if you're thinking about submitting something to a small publisher, is it okay to ask them what their sales figures are like? Can you say, what is your top seller and how many copies have you managed to sell? Or is that a question best held until a contract is offered. For me, I didn't want to bother submitting if the top selling title is in the three figures, but perhaps it's not ok to ask.

What are your thoughts? Have any of you done this and if so what were the results?

Thanks
TH

You can ask them, though they may not answer. You can get dipstick-type ideas of what their general sales levels are from other sources.

By the time a publisher has offered a contract it's way too late to start researching that publisher. The time to research them is before you even submit.

For me, if a publisher doesn't have physical copies already on the shelf at my nearest doors-and-windows bookstore I don't bother submitting to them.

twiharder
08-22-2012, 06:51 PM
Thank you, James. Could you tell me what other methods you could use to get a dip-stick read on sales?

Michael Davis
08-23-2012, 01:07 PM
Like James said, you can ask but remember they get literally thousands of submission a year so they have a ton of choices. Many might be sensitive to that type of question.

Also, here's a little factoid I picked up in doing some research for a workshop I've given: the average titles sold across 1 million annual titles in the USA market alone is about 200 copies per author. So if you're expecting to get rich with indies, better stick with the Big six. JMO

veinglory
08-23-2012, 06:04 PM
The odds are all they will say is 'it varies a lot'. Which is probably true but not to the point.

stray
08-23-2012, 06:09 PM
Go onto Amazon.com look at their books and then look at the sales ranking of said books. if the books are in the 10,000s they are doing quite well - a copy a day. If they are in the 100,000s they are selling a copy a week. If a number of books are in the 100s then they are doing very well for a small outfit. These are very rough estimations but can give you a good idea.

twiharder
08-25-2012, 07:59 PM
thanks for the tips! I will do that.

James D. Macdonald
08-25-2012, 08:11 PM
Also, here's a little factoid I picked up in doing some research for a workshop I've given: the average titles sold across 1 million annual titles in the USA market alone is about 200 copies per author.

That factoid is true (though last time I heard it the number was 500) but misleading. It isn't sales per author. That's sales, through bookstores, that use Bookscan, per ISBN. One title may have several ISBNs (at least one per edition and one per format). Not all bookstores use Bookscan. Not all sales are through bookstores. Not everything with an ISBN is a book. By the time you get to one million ISBNs you're getting down to the recipe books put out by the Church Ladies' Supper Club.

Remember, too, that "average" is not "typical."

Every one of my books has sold way, way more than 200 copies. Every book by everyone I know has sold way, way more than 200 copies.

So, if true, that factoid is meaningless. Put it out of your mind.