Here are some of the most common questions I get from prospective authors:
Will I find my new book on the store shelf?
Most new titles do not find bookstore shelf space because there is not enough space in the stores to go around. The major houses alone publish several thousand more new titles each year than the stores can display. The large houses are also reporting that of the few books they put $100,000 of marketing muscle into, two out of three fail, not selling enough to recover their costs.
An author’s effort to put your own book into local stores in your area is usually quite successful. Stores expect you will stir local traffic. Stores outside your area will welcome your book when they hear you are speaking in the area and could announce that your book is available in their store.
What kind of sales can I expect from a publisher’s sales effort?
The larger publishers are reporting that 60% to 65% of their new titles fail to find a market and the house actually looses money on these titles. These publishers also report that 7,000 to 8,000 sales are generally needed before publishing costs are recovered. It is estimated that less than 10% of Christian titles ever sell more than 10,000 copies.
What kind of income can I expect from publisher sales?
Royalties are paid from the actual sales the publisher accomplishes. Since the publisher is not a retailer, their books are generally sold at a discount to stores. The discount varies depending largely on the volume ordered, usually averaging less than 50%. Here is a normal scenario. A book retailing at $10 will wholesale at $5. The publisher receives $5 and if you are on a 10% royalty, you receive $.50 per book. For 5000 sales you would receive about $2500 in royalty. As you can see, until a book reaches publisher sales of way over 10,000, royalties are not sizable. Less than 10% of Christian books ever experience this kind of sales.
Why am I publishing and promoting my book?
You are publishing for the ministry value your book will have on the people who read it, and on the people they influence. Will your book bring benefit to a thousand, or even ten thousand people? This can and should be very important, as part of your joint of supply (Ephesians 4:16).
On the other hand, when authors sell their own books, they can make as much as 70% and 80% of retail, depending on the publisher discount. Direct author sales of 5000 copies of a book that you have purchased at a 70% discount, retailing for $10 can net a $35,000 income/profit.
Focus on becoming effective with your sales. More than telling people what is in your book, stir their interest in what your book will do for them, what they will get out of your book. Whether you have one minute or thirty minutes to speak, give people examples and stories that illustrate how your book has or could help bring God and His provision into their situation and circumstance.