Good Stories Sell Books Regardless of the Medium


Longtime Newsletter subscriber and client James Babb recently received an order for 180 copies of THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE from a single school in Arkansas! At present, 4,000 copies of his book are in the hands of his avid fans. Another client, Mike Hartner, has compiled his totals for I, WALTER, and he’s sold 736 copies during the past twelve months, with 471 e-books, 248 paperbacks, and 17 audio. And Dave Mallegol, whose opening chapter of his latest book, ADVENTURES OF THE BRONZE HORSEMEN, is posted on my Critique Blog, told me recently that he’s just exceeded 600 paperbacks sold, (700 total including other formats) during the past twelve months for his first book, THE BRONZE HORSEMEN, with none of his soft covers priced at less than $18 per copy.

I continue to publish statistics for material written by these clients, first because I have their permission, ha ha, but second because I believe there is value in knowing that substantial sales can be made if quality stories are made available to the reading public. The diversity of the marketing plan each of these writers uses is another reason there is a benefit in continuing to present their respective sales figures. A good way to evaluate their success is to compare what they have accomplished with what’s reported by Smashwords’ CEO David Coker.

Mr. Coker says that his firm documents sales of approximately $20 million for the past year, but then he boasts a listing of a little more than 250,000 titles. Do the math and that’s $80 per author. To be fair, a couple of titles have been hugely popular, but these statistics show what’s really “out there” for a book without a lot of hard work on the part of the author.

I bring up the Smashwords numbers because it seems that ultra-successful, self-e-published writer Hugh Howey (WOOL) has completed a survey of digital metrics he developed via analyzing the Amazon crawler (don’t ask if you don’t already know what this entails because I’m not remotely capable of explaining it, ha ha), and his “numbers” seem to have ruffled the feathers of the Publishers Marketplace attempt to act as the sounding board for all things digital via Mike Shatzkin’s affiliation with Michael Cader. For me, it’s a case of one person’s highly subjective numbers being assailed by another’s equally speculative statistics. As I’ve said all along, “Who knows?” And since Amazon and Apple don’t post their individual author’s sales figures, it’s all academic. Yes, some opinions can be given, but to state anything as even remotely conclusive is a huge stretch, as I see things.

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