Writing tips: self-publishing: how many books can you sell?

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

How many books should a self-published author aim to sell?  If you are writing a book, how much money are you likely to make from publishing it yourself?

When I lived in Germany, trying to get my second book published, I was friends with a German author.  I was rather jealous of him: he had written four novels, all published commercially.

But he was not happy.

‘My publishers don’t market my books properly,’ he would say.  ‘They simply publish them and forget about them.  I keep trying different publishers, but they are all the same.’

I asked how many novels he had sold.  He told me he had never sold more than 600 copies of a novel.

I thought of my friend when I self-published my first novel, “Blood Summit“.  I set a target of selling 600 copies.  How did I do?

The first year, I sold 246 copies (the number includes on-line through Amazon, and copies I bought myself from Amazon and sold at readings, but excludes copies I have given away).  The second year, I sold 169 copies.  The third year, I sold 143 copies.  The total?  558 copies.

This is good news, as it means that I am within striking distance of 600 copies.  It also means that I have sold comfortably more copies than I have friends, although whether I should celebrate having well less than 600 friends I am not sure.

Does writing make you rich?  Not yet, in my case.  But the sales do cover the cost of paper, ink and cover design.

I hope to sell my 600th copy of Blood Summit this year.  If you want to help, please click on the book cover above to buy at Amazon, or if you live in Vienna, visit the wonderful Shakespeare & Co, who stock Blood Summit together with my book Seven Hotel Stories:

Happy reading.  Feel free to browse this blog for more writing tips.


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