More Interesting Stats from a Top Selling Author- If You Can Stomach Them

There aren't many places (at least in my experience) to find out real sales numbers in publishing. There are plenty of people who'll tell you to be traditionally published to make the most of your book and many others who'll say to go independent to do the same. Most do not back up what they say with any kind of hard data.

Author Lynn Viehl is one who has chosen to put it all out there even though it opens her up to both praise and criticism. Her current book is on a New York Times fiction best seller list and I find several of her numbers and stats quite interesting.

For example, the whole allowing of returns still boggles my mind. It continues to amaze me that this business model still exists (though at least some are starting to figure out it's probably not such a great idea). Here are the numbers for that for just her current statement:

Total sales for the novel now stand at 89,142 copies, minus returns of 27,479, for net sales of 61,663 copies.

That's twenty seven thousand books that have been paid to be shipped, shelved, un-shelved, boxed up again and shipped again. The saddest part is they've also all likely been destroyed, which means all the trees and chemicals used to make them were a complete waste of time, effort and resources. Anybody else's stomach turn just a little at that? In my opinion, there simply has to be a better way.

In addition to the above, Viehl also gives information about her income, which many readers/writers will also find surprising and enlightening. Again, I really appreciate her honesty and wish more publishers would do this kind of thing so the rest of us can be better educated in our decision making along the way.

Here's the link to her Genreality blog. Know of anyone else who is this open about their stats?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


JaxPop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxPop said...

I wonder what the hourly rate works out to be....

27500 returns - out of 89,000 sold copies. Astounding. Thanks but no thanks if that's how it works.

No plans to quit my day job. Too much effort for that kind of return. Lynn is very brave sharing that info. Betcha her publisher & agent aren't too happy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheryl Pickett said...

Ya, most authors really couldn't look at hourly. I guess if you get into the hundreds of thousands of copies maybe it would work out.

My bottom line would just be do I have enough to pay the bills or do what I want to do with the income? Pretty amazing to me that selling tens of thousands of copies puts someone just above minimum wage.

Of course the fact remains that it's never been easy for most people to make money in the arts.

Wouldn't it be great if writer's, dancers, artists who are almost always on their game made what the sports player do who are hardly ever successful on a regular basis?

JaxPop said...

I should have been a little clearer - The writing effort, & even the marketing is rewarding. Going through the contortions required to attract a traditional publishing deal looks like a stacked deck - almost a pay to play. Everyone bashes POD or Self Publishing because expenses are absorbed by the author. Well, my time is worth plenty & prefer control over the final product.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.