Hard numbers -- Jules

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's that time of the month again. Royalty statement time. Time for me to bore you all again with the mantra of "8 copies in the first month is not a bestselling book, whatever your publisher may be telling you".

My royalty statement this month is showing the effects of the financial turndown. Either that, or it's something I said or failed to say on a blog somewhere, and I've caused more than my usual number of "never buying one of *her* books again" moments... Either way, numbers are definitely down slightly across my titles.

That means one book just missed out on reaching 1000 copies sold since it first came out, when I'd expected it to hit that mark this month. On the other hand, Lord and Master has just squeezed past the 1500 mark. And I'm still getting a tiny trickle of sales reports on the last few copies of the treeware edition of The Syndicate, which was formally taken out of print back in June.

Titles vary in how successful they are, even with the same author, publisher and genre. But at this point I'm going to be disappointed if one of my titles doesn't manage 500 copies in the first year. 500 copies is a respectable enough number in small press publishing.

I've been around long enough to be on at least one or two people's auto-buy lists, but in erotic romance ebooks, people mostly seem to buy by publisher. Do your homework on sales levels when checking out a potential publisher. "Good sales" isn't enough. Nor is "bestselling". What are the actual numbers behind those phrases? The hard number behind one publisher's "wonderful performance" may be what another house considers a poor level of sales.

The place with the highest overall sales isn't necessarily the best place for your book. There may be issues with the standard contract, there may be issues with getting paid in a format that doesn't involve massive taxes or currency conversion fees if you live in a different country, they may not publish the genre you write. If sales numbers were my only consideration, I'd learn to write het so I could sell to the mainstream. But sales is one of the factors that goes into the mix, and when it's your book at stake, you want hard and spiky numbers, not warm and fuzzy phrases.


fiona glass 5:45 AM  

I agree wholeheartedly about the 'bestelling' claims - it really is worth checking out what criteria your publishers are using to work out such figures. One of my previous publishers (now defunct) had one of my titles listed on its bestseller list - yet I knew from my royalty reports how *very* few it was selling....

Annmarie 1:12 PM  

I don't think that some people realize that you can be a best seller and have sold 5 copies...

True story... One time an author at a publisher I was at wrote to me and asked how many thousands of copies of their ebook would be sold. I asked what made them think they would sell in the thousands and their answer was... Since ebooks are available world wide, their sales should be reflective of that. (They were new to being published.)

Jules Jones 12:44 PM  

I've got tired of seeing "but my publisher says their books sell really really well" and similar in discussions at Absolute Write about whether a publisher is a good prospect. Maybe if I keep waving around a few hard numbers, and keep pointing out that those numbers are *small* *press* numbers, a few people will get the message that it's the actual numbers that matter, not fuzzy phrases. :-/

Emily Veinglory 8:45 PM  

I am seeing more and more authors giving straight numbers about their own sales. I think there is much more transperancy these days (not exactly a lot, really. But much more).

Angelia Sparrow 10:21 PM  

I see no reason to hide my sales numbers. They may be nothing to crow about, but I find when authors get together and compare sales, some publishers' claims of their sales numbers go right out the window.

My question is, how can I be sure my numbers are what I am told they are?

Katrina Strauss 11:30 AM  

My sales dropped in November, with a noticeable decrease in the perecentage trend I've experienced with previous releases as far as 3rd month sales vs. release month. Other authors have told me the same regarding their numbers, while one of my publishers reported a noticeable drop in sales for their overall catalog. I'd like to think that in these trying times, an inexpensive read might make for a good escape from real world woes, but even we authors will apparently suffer the pinch.

Emily Veinglory 11:43 AM  

It is my experience that number tend to drop towards the end fo the years as spending goes more to 'tangibles' as gift items--Deecember releases of ebooks tend to start a little slow. But I am sure the economic situation is also being felt.

Katrina Strauss 12:39 PM  

Yeah, I remember when I worked for an e-pub, our holiday sales sucked, to put it nicely. But authors, as well as this one publisher, are saying sales are dropping more than usual for even this time of year. I can't talk, since I myself am spending less money on books since the household budget got tighter.

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