1. karel

    karel New Member

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    Traditional Sales question on my book published in Japan

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by karel, Feb 6, 2019.

    Hi,

    I wrote a book on anxiety 'At last a life' many years ago and although it is self-published it became hugely successful with around 80,000 sales. A famous person then went on TV and spoke about how much it helped him.

    This led to a Japanese publisher (tuttle-mori agency) getting in touch and publishing the book over there. I received an invoice for the first 4 months of sales for 1,970 books sold. This just about covered my advance and so I was keen to see last years sales for a whole year, thinking they would be around 6,000 going on the first 4 months.

    I then received an invoice saying for the whole year they sold 186 copies! This makes no sense at all, I see it on their version of Amazon, in the top bookstores etc. To go from selling around 12 a day to one every two days does not add up but I have no way of checking or proving anything.

    Now I am not saying I am being lied to here, but is there any explanation as to this being right? I have emailed them with concerns but got no reply. The only thing I can think is books sell plenty when launched and tail off, but this sounds incredibly low even if that is the case.

    Thanks for any advice

    Paul
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Congrats!

    It could be that you had a spike of sales upon initial release, especially with the celebrity endorsement, which tailed off severely after a few months. Most books follow this pattern; if you have big sales and they stay big over years, you're at Household Name kind of author-status.

    I haven't heard of Tuttle-Mori and your post isn't clear whether they're an agency or a publisher. If an agency, ask them if they think there's anything amiss. They're your advocate with the publisher, and they have as much interest as you in making sure you're paid for all your sales.

    Is there a clause in your contract allowing you to have your sales and royalties audited by the accountant of your choice? There should be, and if you're worried (and can spare the expense of an accountant) you could always do that.
     
  3. karel

    karel New Member

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    Hi and thanks for your reply.

    It is a publisher and not an agent.

    The endorsement was not seen in Japan and so would not have had any bearing on sales. The owner of the publishing company was made aware of it through an associate who saw the interview in Europe.

    I have actually just got a reply, I am not really clued up and so don't really understand most of it.

    Dear Paul,

    Thank you for yours and sorry for my delay.

    I have reconfirmed the publisher and they explained that the difference between 2017 and 2018 sales (1794cps and 186cps) is the balance of the distributed cps and returned cps due to Japanese book distribution system.

    Books are sold on consignment in Japan, so they might have the returned copies from the bookstores and they need to balance them with their sales.

    Therefore the difference tend to occur especially for the second year, because the publisher distributes their new books as many as they could.
    For your refer, 448cps had been returned in 2018.

    I hope these are acceptable for you, but if you have any questions,
    there is anything I could do for you, please let me know.

    We appreciate for your kind help and understanding.

    Best regards,
    Molly

    I don't feel I am being lied to as they are one of the biggest publishing companies in Japan according to Google, I would this down to a small percentage chance. I am just trying to understand more to put my mind at rest and have hope for next year.

    Thanks
     
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Aha, that makes sense. There's a similar returns system in the UK/US, but here publishers hold back a percentage of your royalties for the first year or so to account for it.
     
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Their response to you sounds reasonable, but I'm not knowledgeable in this area so don't take my word for it. As I understand their email, they're saying they sent as many books to bookstores as possible. Then a chunk of those books did not sell, so the bookstores sent them back to the publisher.

    Was this translated into Japanese? Because if it were an English-language book in Japanese brick-and-mortar stores, then I can understand the extremely low sales. The majority of the Japanese population honestly don't speak English, as far as I'm aware. Those who do speak it tend to speak it at a very poor level. The Japanese teachers who were considered to "speak English" I encountered at my school (NOT in Japan though) were barely conversational. Even the actual English teachers - the Japanese teachers who teach English to high school students - have pre-intermediate English at best. (these were teachers sent out by the government after an intensive selection process and considered to be "on sabbatical" when they come out, so I'm gonna assume the teachers I encountered are already some of the best in Japan)

    Considering this... I just can't imagine there would be many buyers if you book wasn't translated. You'd be aimed at the expat community I guess.

    Personally I'd be more angry with your publisher's poor promotional strategies... Mind you, I have no idea if selling so few copies is the norm for most books in publishing, or if it's because of poor performance on your publisher's part.
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I deleted this - I think I was wrong. I'm not quite sure WHERE I went wrong, but... somewhere...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  7. karel

    karel New Member

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    Hi, yes the book was translated into Japanese
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm, I wonder if it's possible then to speak with the publisher about changing promotional strategy, 'cause whatever they're doing is clearly ineffective.

    Another possible problem: could there be some cultural gap between the message of your book and the customer's mindset that would explain why the book didn't "take" with the Japanese market?
     
  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    25% returns is not terrible.

    How many copies does a successful self-help book sell in Japan?

    I'm pretty sure none of us knows the answer, so none of us can say if the publisher did their job well or not.
     
    Mckk and Cave Troll like this.

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