I've been thinking of 250 as a significant number for years, mostly because my husband told me he'd read somewhere that the average non-fiction book sells 250 copies in its lifetime. When I told him about this the other day, he said he didn't remember saying anything about 250 copies, and he thought it must be higher than that. But I knew he had said something with the number 250 in it. (That's the way I remember things.)
So I looked it up and found this, from a widely-cited 2011 blog post called "The Ten Awful Truths about Book Publishing":
The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.If the book was supposed to sell 250 copies a year, it's selling at an average rate, and that's good. However, that blog post was talking about all published books. The statistics for self-published books are different. Here are some estimates of average self-published book sales:
There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.
It’s estimated that the average self-published print book sells around 250 copies over its lifetime.
[T]he average number of [self-published] books sold is often said to be a figure like 100, 250, 500, or 650. ... That’s lifetime.So the "250 copies in its lifetime" estimate was correct ... for self-published books. Measured against that average, Working with Stories is doing very well. I have no idea how long the book's "lifetime" will be, but I would hope that it will stay reasonably current for at least five years.
How is the book doing on making money? I paid my indexer $3000 to produce the index at the end of the book (after she very kindly cut her rate in half to help out). Adding up print and Kindle and PDF and direct sales, I've made about $2500 on book sales since last May. So in another few months, I might actually start to get some compensation for the two and a half person-years (I estimate) I spent writing the book! That's exciting.
Has the book been a success in helping people work with stories? To answer that question I need no calculator. I am sure of it, because of all the emails I have received over the past seven years. Ever since I wrote the book's first edition in 2008, I have regularly received emails thanking me for writing the book and telling me about the many ways in which people are making use of it. Money aside, that's exactly what I wanted to happen.
But that's enough about me. The main reason I wanted to write this blog post today was to thank you. If you bought a copy of the book, thank you. If you gave me feedback on the book, thank you. If you encouraged me to keep going, thank you. If you helped with the work the book is based on, thank you. If you hired me on a project so I could learn what I wrote in the book, thank you. If you talked to me about stories and story work, thank you. I couldn't have done it without all of you.
In honor of this milestone, I thought I'd show you a funny picture I made last year to promote the book (but decided it was too silly to use).
|At my house, everybody reads Working with Stories.|
Anyway, thanks again for all your help. Here's looking forward to more good work in the future!