A blog by Miral Sattar on the Mediashift website said, “According to the Library of Congress, the average book sells 250 copies a year and the average self-published book sells 150 copies a year. These numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt because no one database has all the data. Bookscan, Nielsen and Bowker all provide general numbers and stats with the limited numbers they track, and the sales numbers can be vastly different.”
There are other “fudging” factors as well. As every print author knows many books will be returned to the publisher unsold as “returns”. Yet they had counted as “sales” as soon as they left the publisher’s warehouse. In the past, some publishers and bookstores very deliberately have played this game. Either the publisher sends hundreds too many books out to stores to try to push a particular title up the best seller lists, or bookstores order far too many books so they can return them and not need to pay their bills.
Even authors sometimes play the game with both print and digital books, buying dozens of copies of their own book to push it up the sales charts.
But nevertheless, these figures give us something to work with. An author might receive 40% of the digital price of a book. It sells for $3.99. So she sells 250 x $1.60 = $400. Not exactly a fantastic annual income. Which is why most “full-time” authors have a very large backlist bringing them in sales, as well as continual new releases.
Another fascinating fact from Ms. Sattar’s blog was this: "According to a recent Smashwords survey, $3.99 books sell more units than any other price point (this does not include free downloads). A $3.99 price point earns authors total income that is 55% above the average compared with all price points."
But it was her final paragraph I liked best: “Regardless of the sales of the books, the important thing to remember is no pricing strategy will work if your book isn’t in its best shape. This means having a well-edited book, eye-catching cover, an error-free book and selecting the right categories for discovery.”
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.