Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How Many Copies Of Your Book Will You Sell?

How many copies do you actually think you can sell of your book?  Really, I want to know. So should you.

That is the question that you need to ask:

·         Before you write it.
·         Before you publish it.
·         Before you market it.

Notice I didn’t say how many copies do you think will be purchased?  I want to know not what will sell by luck or the help of others, but by your efforts.

In order to take responsibility for book sales, you need to be involved in the process.  If you are published by someone, you need to know what that publisher is doing – and then to not only be on top of them for what they committed to do, but to figure out how you can fill in the gaps of what they admittedly will ignore.

If you self-publish, you know it all falls onto your shoulders.  You shouldn’t expect anyone to do anything for you – unless you pay them, trade for help, or find a charity that will assist you.

So let’s look at the big picture as to what impacts book sales:

1.      Is your book priced right – compared to similar books, books in general, and other competing content providers?

2.      Does your book have good distribution?  Is it listed for sale on all major websites – other than Amazon?  Is it available in print, and if so, is it stocked in stores?  Is it in audio form, whether as a digital stream or CD – and is it listed for sale all over the place?

3.      Is there a marketing plan in place that covers:

·         Advertising?
·         Public relations and news media?
·         Speaking appearances?
·         Affiliate sales?
·         Marketing to libraries, bulk sales to organizations, campuses, gift shops, religious book stores?
·     Social media?

4.      Have you called upon those you know to buy the book and to share information about your book with those that they know?

5.      Do you have a grass roots campaign to dedicate your time to daily, where you look to personally impact sales by reaching out in person, by -- phone,  mail, or email, to those who can buy books or help you sell them?

Many books do not sell a lot of copies. What’s a lot?  Only a handful sell over a million copies. The vast majority of books, especially self-published ones, do not cross the 5,000-copy threshold within the first year of publication.  For some, they may only sell a few hundred – or fewer – copies.

Shock, dismay. frustration, depression, anger, and confusion all suffocate the author upon seeing his or her gem virtually ignored by the book-buying public.  Blame is everywhere.  The publisher did nothing to help.  The publicist fell short.  The bookstore rejected you as a speaker for no good reason.  The book reviewer doesn’t understand how good your book is.

But the blame starts first with the author.  You take control of your writing career – no one else.  Do not subcontract this task to a literary agent, publisher, or freelancer.  

Do not think everyone’s crazy or incompetent.  Do not believe no other book is as good as yours. Do not look beyond yourself.

Here’s what you need to do:

1.      Make a plan.
2.      Put resources into executing it.
3.      Underestimate success rather than predict greatness.
4.      Work twice as hard as you think you should.
5.      Spend your energy and brainpower on creativity and on doing – not by whining, dreaming or arguing.

Book sales are hard to come by.  Competition is fierce and the book-buying public is not growing in size.  You must expect nothing from everyone but take the necessary steps to execute a solid book marketing plan if you are to seize control of your book sales and writing career.

Now, no matter what authors do, the vast majority will fall short. It’s a numbers game.  But if you want to be amongst those who break through and succeed, you need to be in it to win it.  Don’t leave this up to chance, ego, or ignorance – you must, must, must steer the ship.

Begin by pulling out of the harbor – and wear a life vest!


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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