1. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    How many sales vs how many sales

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by yagr, Aug 26, 2014.

    I've been thinking. Admittedly, this is where my problems usually begin.

    You have a book. You're debating on going the traditional route or self-publishing. Let's go one step further and suggest that you've even got a publisher lined up. As most of us know, few are going to go on to fame and riches from writing regardless of our route. That said, how many sales would you need to be able to generate annually for the self-publishing idea to be a better gamble going forward?

    I have a unique marketing position in that I can probably sell 3,000 copies a year in perpetuity without an external publisher or traditional distribution network. Self published I can probably sell each book for $10. Going a traditional route I think the cover price would be at about $7. So, let's say 15% of each book's wholesale price at $7 is about fifty-two cents per copy in royalties versus $5 per copy self publishing. If my 3000 copies annual estimate is reasonable, then I'd need to sell almost 29,000 copies annually through the publisher in order to get the same amount of money.

    Granted, some sales would be e-books and that's going to jump the percentages coming from the publishing house significantly...but how many copies of your book would you have to be able to sell on your own before you began to debate the wisdom of going traditional - assuming that was an option.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's really looking at the decision from an overly simplistic view. It's probably close to the last thing one should look at - and will always be speculative at best (ie, not the way to make the decision).
     
  3. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Agreed. Which is why I asked 'how many before you began to debate'. By debate, I mean, start looking at the other factors.

    Okay, but I don't have a lot of things left to do...I think it is close to the last thing I have looked at. I also agree that it will always be speculative...but I like speculating. :)
     
  4. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    I think it depends on more than just book sales alone. There are other things a publisher's imprint might impart to your work. There is their editorial expertise and marketing department. Something that won't be available to you as a self-publisher. I doubt many books get to print without some measure of re-write, and its in those details that you might find the greatest value. What about the cache aspect of being picked up mainstream as opposed to what is still a niche way of getting to market? Would that help to establish higher credibility than through self publishing? While you might make more money on your book the direct way, you might also lose a lot of non-financial benefits which could ultimately be worth more in the long run.

    One of my favourite bands produced one of their own albums. Then admitted after the fact that they wished they hadn't as there was potential for that album which was never realised. Had they allowed others to work on it with them it would have become greater than the sum of it's parts. What they ended up with was an album that fell below their expectations.

    Nearly every self-published success story has been a success only after it was picked up by a mainstream publisher and put on shelves with an imprint that matters. Not saying this is the way it will always be, but it's the way it is right now. You always have the chance to market your book personally as well even if you do take it mainsteam. Don't you get first right of refusal on unsold books? Just my thoughts.

    I think self-publishing is great. But I also think it's best for books which have a very narrow appeal that the author is in a position to capitalise on. Something that mainstream publishers have no room in their catalogue for and would otherwise be unseen in the world. Things like a book on boatbuilding for example. It's a tiny niche market.
     
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  5. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    @ PensiveQuill - quite the pensive response. :) I appreciate it. I raised the money aspect because it is the only quantifiable part of the equation. Despite addressing that, you raised some thoughts for consideration that were not immediately apparent to me - thank you for that.

    Ultimately, the money really doesn't matter to me. Nor the exposure; plan on using a pseudonym anyway - I really don't want the attention. As for the niche...I'm really not sure. It is a YA fantasy but along the lines of Richard Bach (Illusions, Jonathon Livingston Seagull) or Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior).

    Anyway, you've given me more to think about...so I should go think. :)
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm befuddled as to how this could be counted on to sell three thousand copies a year. I was vaguely assuming, when you said that, that this was a nonfiction work that would be required as a class textbook or something of the sort.
     
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  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    For my piece I need traditional publishing to give it that 'seal of approval'. It's not an entertainment story, which self publishing is better at handling. Mine will need to be vetted by the circle to make it successful. It's success won't be based on sales, but discussion.
     
  8. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I am on a regular, ongoing speaker tour. Small venues but such a book resonates with the groups I speak to.
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    If you're supplying the marketing opportunities and sales points it makes perfect sense to self-publish. That's why you'd go to a traditional publisher if you didn't have it yourself. For someone without a sales point and established market, 29 000 sales through traditional vs 3000 self is probably the right balance. You'd get more sales going traditional, unless you had a way to make those sales beyond 'set up and hope' websites like Amazon. A nobody would be lucky to get 300 going self.
     
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  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have a better reason to self publish than most, and would probably have better success with it, but I agree with @PensiveQuill that there are other reasons for trying for a traditional publish first. Go with the option that makes you feel most excited.
     
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  11. RaeRae
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    RaeRae Member

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    It sounds a bit too ambitious to me. I self published two weeks ago and so far sold one book. For sales to pick up 300 fold by the end of the year would be, to say the least, awesome and amazing. I say go with the flow and see what happens over a six month period.
     
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  12. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    What are the odds of me knowing a RaeRae from Beaverton...? If you are that particular RaeRae - hi from A&M! If A&M didn't jump out at you as your favorite couple, then nope...different RaeRae. :)
     
  13. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In your situation, I would go for self-publishing.
     
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  14. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    That's not entirely true. Ever hear of Hugh Howey? He is the first indie publisher to get a movie deal. After he became successful (but before the movie deal,) traditional publishers wanted to publish him, but he refused. He did however get an agent and that's how he got a movie deal. He also wrote and marketed his tail off.

    Besides, what is 'success?' Is it a movie deal and a making multimillions, or is it making enough to peruse writing as a full time career? There are plenty of indie authors who fall into that second category. They might not ever make millions or be a household word, but they are still living their dreams.

    What kind of marketing did you do? Did you do free days? Get your book into the hands of reviewers and bloggers? Press releases, anything? Did you line up any reviews or publicity? Without a solid marketing plan, you might sell one book a month, (if you're lucky.)

    And here's the caveat; even if you traditionally publish, you are still going to have to market your own tail off. The publishers today expect this.
     
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  15. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    That's great! Perfect place to sell. And you know your market. If you haven't looked at Hay House Publishing, maybe you should. They have a self publishing arm, Balboa Books, and routinely choose a self published author from Balboa to market at Hay House. You probably know all about this.

    I only bring it up because Hay House is beginning to publish fiction and your book, to me at least, seems a possible fit. Just a thought.
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The key word was "nearly". We could probably all find the few exceptions, but that doesn't change the fact that they are exceptions.

    I'd venture to say very few self-publishers make enough to make it a full-time career - at least, not without a partner who pays the majority of their bills.

    What marketing is asked of trade published authors is tiny compared to what self-publishers have to do. Perhaps a social media presence, but that isn't expected or required (and considering some of the foot-in-mouth-issues trade authors have pulled, even that may be in the "let's rethink this" category). And of course, trade authors don't have to do anything with distribution issues.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd call even making a modest second income--enough to pay the car payment, say--"success". And I don't think that many self-published authors achieve that level of success.

    Do you define "plenty" as ten percent of self-published authors? One percent? One tenth of one percent? I'd be very surprised if it's as much as one percent.
     
  18. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    How many traditionally published authors do you think make it big? Most do have to keep their day jobs, even with a major publishing house behind them.

    Even people like Bram Stoker had a day job.

    Also not entirely true anymore. Today, traditional publishers want you to have a fanbase before they give you a contract. That's why it's so easy for an indie author to get picked up. They come with a built in fanbase.

    Some famous traditionally published authors DO have a presence. Neil Gaiman is very active on Twitter. Anne Rice has a devoted YouTube following. Stephen King does list building, old school style. I'm sure we all agree that these authors are famous enough that they don't HAVE to have these presences. But they know that in order to stay on top they have to put themselves out there and work at it.

    If you are INDIE publishing (as opposed to self publishing, which is more like a vanity press deal) then you don't have to deal with distribution issues. That's something only self publishers do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Right. But you said:

    "Plenty" seems like an overstatement.
     

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