Skip to content

Recent Questions

How many books do first time authors sell on average?

There are many factors that determine how many copies of your book you will sell. Everything from your own personality, the quality of your cover, the genre of your book, your marketing campaign, how many reviews you can get in the first 30 days, how well you target your ideal readers, etc.

There are also industry-wide factors, such as how book sales shot up in 2020 as many people found themselves stuck at home due to COVID-19. There’s also the fact that there are over 1 million books being published on Amazon alone every year meaning there are more titles vying for reader attention.

Based on often-quoted figures in the industry, most first-time authors will sell less than 250 copies of their book.

On Amazon, most books will sell less than 100 copies in their first 12 months of being online.

Most books that make to Barnes and Noble bookshops sell less than 1,000 copies.


What other sources say

Scribe Media
Aim for 1,000 copies

The average traditionally published non-fiction book sells about 250-300 copies in the first year, but when we manage a book launch, our target is to sell 1,000 copies in the first 3 months.

Why 1,000? Because at that number of sales, a book has the momentum it needs to keep spreading by word of mouth.

If your book isn’t selling as many copies as you hoped over the first 2 months, it might be worth running a book promotion in month 3 to boost your numbers.

Article date: Estimated 2019
Read the full article: Everything you need to know about book sales figures

John Hunt Publishers
Books sell less than you think

Books tend to sell less than you think.

Estimates of the number of new titles published each year in English that sell over 5000 copies vary from 1000 through to 25,000, depending on the criteria applied.

Either way, out of millions of new titles each year (in 2010, 2.5 million new ISBNs – book-identifying numbers – were issued), that is not many.

The average sales of all new titles have been variously estimated at 10 or 250 or 500 copies, depending on who you listen to, which year they’re talking about, and whether you include self-published titles or not (nowadays, around a million or two new titles per year, depending on definitions).

The most commonly quoted figures are around 30 for a self-published book, and 250 for a traditionally published one. In a recent interview (2015) with the founder of MyBestseller, he quotes 95% of books as selling less than 100 copies.

The industry guru Mike Shatzkin talks of how it is now not uncommon for books to sell in the very low triple digits, even on a big publisher’s list.

So the sales are not evenly distributed, with a small number of “brand name” authors taking the lion’s share. This is particularly so in fiction, where about 0.01% of titles account for 50% of the sales, 0.1% account for around 80%, etc.

Article date: Estimated 2018
Read the full article: Estimated Sales – How many copies will you sell?

Non-Fiction Author’s Association
How many books can you expect to sell?

It’s not easy to sell books. There are all kinds of statistics bouncing around out there, but generally speaking, most self-published authors will likely sell around 250 books or less. A few years ago, the industry was buzzing when statistics revealed that the average self-published author earns less than $500 from her books. That figure doesn’t even cover the cost of quality editing.

Article date: October 2018
Read the full article: The truth about book sales and the keys to generating income from publishing

How many books can first-time authors expect to sell?


The Guardian
Less than US$500

Despite the splash caused by self-publishing superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James, the average amount earned by DIY authors in 2011 was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.

With Hocking raking in sales of $2.5m, Fifty Shades of Grey’s James signing up to a mainstream press for a six-figure advance, and a slew of deals for other self-published successes, the sector is starting to look like a gold mine for would-be authors. But a survey of 1,007 self-published writers – one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date – found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year. This amount, however, is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-publishing authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue and half of writers earning less than $500…

Authors… would be well advised to spend time and money on making a title look professional, the survey found: self-publishers who received help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average; help with cover design upped earnings by a further 34%.

Half the respondents failed to reach $500 in royalties in 2011, and a quarter of the books are unlikely to cover the direct costs of production.

Article date: May 2012
Read the full article: Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500

Previous Question How many books are there on Amazon?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website participates in affiliate programs.
We may earn a commission from qualifying purchases when we refer some products or services.
This does not increase the cost you, but makes it possible for us to earn a little sumpin' sumpin'.
Read our full Affiliate Disclosure
Copyright © Valley of Writers | 2020 - 2022
Terms | Privacy
Proudly managed by Artist Dynamix & hosted by Siteground