How many copies of your book do you want to sell?

That was the question that a friend and a spiritual coach asked me about my first book while it was in first-draft stage and we were first talking about it and I was telling her what it was about.

I had already done enough research at that point to know that the average book author only sells about 200-300 copies, and these mainly go to family, friends, and acquaintances.

My answer at the time: I don’t know. 100,000 copies? It was the first number that came to mind that was well above the industry average. I had not really thought about it.

Her next question: Are you willing to do what it takes to sell 100,000 copies? I answered yes, even though I had no idea what that actually meant.

I didn’t know at the time, that traditional publishers do help some in the promotion, but it’s mostly the author’s job to do promote the book sales not only in short-term book launches, but over time.

Let’s do some basic book sales economics, even for self-publishing, which returns the author the most in terms of book sales royalties (60-70%). Traditional publishers share less in terms of royalties, maybe 15% of retail price.

Let’s say your book is priced at $20. Using Kindle Direct Publishing for paperbacks, royalties are 60%, or $12, less printing costs, which may be around $5. You earn about $7 per copy on a $20 book. The Kindle version might be priced at $12, and you get 70% royalty on that or about $8.40 per copy.

A “successful” traditional book sells about 10,000 copies over its lifetime, and that lifetime can be, let’s say 3 years. That’s an average of 278 books per month, or about $1,946 per month at $7 per book. It’s half of that if you use a traditional publisher at around $3 per book.

That’s great, and definitely a successful book! But it doesn’t pay enough in terms of royalties to quit your job.

If you’re going to make a career out of your book, chances are you’re going to need some higher priced products or services to sell, like online courses, or coaching programs.

Understanding these book economics was the trigger that sent me into Internet Marketing Grad School to learn about online business.

To your online success!


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