How many copies does the average published book sell?

I'm writing a book and I'm curious what the expectations are for first time authors.

12 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    It depends on a number of factors. For one, the size of the publishing company (500-1000 copies is considered poor for a large publishing house), the location (the economy in the U.S. has been declining and book sales reflect this), as well as other things.

    Here are some stats for you:

    Here’s the reality of the book industry: in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.

    The average book in America sells about 500 copies” (Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006). And average sales have since fallen much more. According to BookScan, which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, only 299 million books were sold in 2008 in the U.S. in all adult nonfiction categories combined. The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.

    But I agree with others, don't let this stop you. There are always those who sell beyond their expectations. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, case in point.

    So write for you and enjoy :)

  • ?
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    I can only give you my opinion as a soon-to-be published author. When you self-publish a book, the marketing and distribution are your responsibility. Not many writers are experts in either of these areas. In fact, most probably have little or no experience with either. It is a sad truth that writing a good book is not enough. Many other factors contribute to how well any book will sell. The business end of writing requires far different knowledge and skill sets than writing it. This quote from Jasmine Cresswell, a well-known romance writer, sums it up: Writing is a creative endeavor, publishing is a business.

  • 5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    How many copies does the average published book sell?

    I'm writing a book and I'm curious what the expectations are for first time authors.

    Source(s): copies average published book sell:
  • wymer
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Average Book Sales

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  • BRaini
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    From what I have read from published (and successful) authors, the huge majority of books sell around 50 copies... to family and friends.

    VERY few end up on any best-seller lists or anything like that. Well under 5% sell more than 100.

    Here's some interesting linkies for rules and tips for authors... I know this is for Sci-Fi, but the advice is usable by all aspiring authors.

    Source(s): I'm giving it a try as well. If I get published - I'll be happy with the 50 copies!!
  • 5 years ago

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  • 10 years ago

    You're assuming that your book will get published at all. Most first novels don't. You need to write, on average, a million words of fiction for practice before you're capable of writing something publishable.

    Of the tiny fraction of novelists who make any money at all from their writing, most don't make enough for it to be their sole source of income. There was a survey done in the UK about five years ago, which found that the average income from writing fiction was about a quarter of the national average income. This is less than minimum wage, meaning that those writers who were making the average amount could have earned more by flipping burgers or stacking shelves.

    So "how much will I earn?" or "how many copies will I sell?" is probably the wrong question to ask, because if you write with the expectation that you'll be paid for it, you'll probably be disappointed. A better question to ask is, "If nobody but my mum and my best friend reads this book (more because they feel obliged to than because they want to), would I still want to write it?" If the answer is yes, go ahead and write it, and treat everything else as a bonus.

  • 6 years ago

    Forget publishers, go straight to the printer with your work. Yea, now what ? Distribution. Now that takes some imagination but is possible with today's internet marketing.

  • The expectation? The expectation is to sell nothing.

    You'll be extremely lucky if your book is even read by an agent, let alone published.

  • 4 years ago

    I'm very interested too about the answer to this question

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