What REALLY Sold in 2016?

From SFWA:

Finishing the book can seem like such a step forward!  Pop the champagne!

But then the author sits down to contemplate publishing.  Oh, the thorny questions!  Try for a commercial publisher?  Do the self publishing route?  Bring it out as an ebook only?  Pay for print layout and an ISBN and bring it out as print?

So many questions!

It can raise anyone’s blood pressure!

The latest on authorearnings.com, a good source of ‘who’s making what’ information, is that the times they are a’changin’ for today’s authors.  Maybe that stubborn determination to find an agent and get picked up by a NY publisher so that your book ends up in Barnes and Noble isn’t really worth the (huge) effort.

. . . .

Every genre has its own print-versus-ebook profile. Some genres are populated by big ebook readers while others have readers who still go for print. So there is no single answer for that question. There can be a difference even within a genre, depending on the age and gender of your readers. That’s always something I consider when I’m evaluating a book — who is the readership and what do they read?

. . . .

Print books used to be purchased pretty exclusively in brick and mortar bookstores.  It is nearly impossible for small commercial publishers and self published authors to get books onto those bookstore shelves, and authors sometimes come out losing money when they do because of bookstore ‘return’ requirements.

But now?

In 2016, 43% of all traditionally published books were purchased online.  Now, THAT is a reason to break out the champagne!  Why?  Because most readers pay little to no attention to the publisher.  As long as the small press or self published book looks professional and has a professional looking cover,  it’s competitive with books from the ‘bookstore’ publishers.  If your ebook or print book includes those 5 critical elements for success and looks like the other professionally published books out there, readers don’t care who published it.  They’ll look at price.

. . . .

In 2016, 21,800,000 self published print books were sold, mostly published through Create Space. The average price was $10.34. Amazon imprints sold another 959,000 copies.

Link to the rest at SFWA

19 thoughts on “What REALLY Sold in 2016?”

  1. Nice article.
    Really raised my hopes that maybe dreamers might finally get it…
    …then I got to the comments.

    Le sigh.

      • I see one comment from a guy asking for help for his publishing deal, and one response from the editor warning him (in not quite so explicit words) that he’s dealing with a vanity press.

    • Oh, come on, Felix. What did you expect? Dreamers want to see their debut novel in hardcover; they need not consider anything beyond that.

        • Language is a huge barrier. And if the writer is one of those who read the “how to be a Kindle millionaire” writing books, then they’re likely told to spam their stuff all over the web, whether it’s relevant or not, and to hit people up for the privilege of working with them on their book.

          And in the writer of the comment’s favor, the author of that article did list mystery as a category they wrote in. So maybe not that far off for him to ask (I took it he was asking her, not the entire SFWA organization).

  2. I sold approx. 4200 print books last year. I’m pretty happy with that. (That’s just my indie stuff, not sure what my old trad books sold since I don’t pay much attention to them anymore.)

    • That’s awe-inspiring, Indie Author. Congrats! 🙂

      If you don’t mind answering:
      1) how many ebooks did you sell of those same books? how many audio?
      2) were they fiction or nonfiction titles?
      3) what genre were they in?

        • Awesome, thanks! Very helpful.

          I don’t write Romance (I write Mystery/Thriller).

          But my ratio splits by format looked a lot like yours last year.

          Only somewhat smaller. 🙂

    • My publishers mailed me statements every quarter for two years. Though they were basically zero after the first two quarters.

      I probably still have them, in one of the “there’s probably a whole wood-pulp-based ecosystem evolving in there” drawers.

      Tradpub isn’t doing statements any more?

  3. Wow, Indie Author! I write romance and I’m impressed. Any wisdom to share on how those numbers came about?

  4. Clearly, the sole comment comes from an individual whose first language isn’t English. He may have used translation software to write it. I suspect he wasn’t clear on the meaning of the article itself.

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