Wednesday, March 9, 2011

120,000 books and compelling covers

Want to be a published author? Think self-publishing is the way to go? It might be, but it’s not for the cowardly and, for most, it’s hardly a get-rich-quick scheme. Neither is the conventional contract-publishing method.

Here are some interesting statistics I’ve come across.

  1. Books news and publishing-industry statistics have posted this interesting tidbit: “The New York Times reports that ‘According to a recent survey, 81 percent of people feel that they have a book in them … and should write it.’ ”

  2. However, lots of Americans DO NOT read for pleasure. I don’t know if they’re the same people who want to write a book or not, but 33% of those who graduate from high school and 42% of college graduates confess that they haven’t read a book since leaving school.

  3. Eighty percent of American families didn’t purchase a book last year.

  4. According to, about 120, 000 books are published yearly in the U.S.

  5. Of those published, a fiction book is considered successful if it sells 5,000 copies.

  6. A non-fiction book finishes in the black if it sells at least 7,500 copies.

  7. Jane Smith, blogging on how publishing really works, reported that the average self- published book sells only a paltry number -- between 40 and 200 copies.

  8. But not all self-published books generate a tiny number of sales. USA Today possesses a searchable database with 10 years of best-seller data and it’s interesting to note the all- time best-selling writing/reference guide in the United States is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, originally a self-published book. Other authors who have self-published a novel or novels and sold lots of books are: Beatrix Potter, Amanda Hocking, Richard Paul Evans, L Ron Hubbard, Mark Twain, Christopher Paolini and Brandon Massey.

  9. Because of the small sales numbers, 70% of new books coming out don’t make a profit or even earn back their advance.

  10. Of the books that are purchased apparently only 57 percent are read cover-to-cover.

  11. A survey of 4,000 adults in the United Kingdom conducted by Teletext reported that 55% said they bought books for decoration, such as coffee-table books, with no intention of actually reading them.

  12. This is probably why “Seventy-five percent of 300 booksellers surveyed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component.”

  13. A point of hope in getting more Americans involved in reading might be the increase in e-book sales. The International Digital Publishing Forum and the Association of American Publishers state that January 2010 e-book sales were 370 percent greater than those in January 2009.

These statistics can be discouraging. They reveal how intrepid the wanna-be published author must be. They make me admire those who put their books out there whether by self-publishing or through the traditional publishing houses.

I agree with Carl Sautter, an Emmy-nominated writer who worked on such television series as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Moonlighting." He once said, “When you start writing stories that only you can write, you raise yourself as a writer to a whole new level.”

I’d like to read the stories of those 80% of Americans who feel they have a story inside them. In an effort to encourage one such person, my friend Erin Danzer, I’d like to introduce you to her and her tales. Erin has felt the compulsion and has done something about it. Multiple times.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two sons. Erin has 20 years of writing experience. Her goal is to make her lifelong hobby a dream-come-true by self-publishing her stories and sharing them with the public. Over the past few years she’s gone indie and published three books, a series entitled The Mason Ridge Trilogy.

If you’re a paranormal romance reader, this series maybe right up your alley—it’s a stirring love story set in Wisconsin that involves werewolves, vampires and an ancient curse.
The third book in her trilogy Losing It All is coming out this month.

All three books are available through or through Erin’s Website: You can contact Erin at: She and I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share your take on the publishing statistics or leave a comment about Erin’s novels. Thanks.

Sources (This is an excellent article by Robyn Jackson definitely worth a look.) (This has many more great and encouraging facts I couldn’t fit into this Thursday Thirteen.)


  1. I have briefly flirted with the idea of self-publishing, but I'm currently published by a small press instead.

    No path to publication is ever easy, but it seems to me that those who only want the easiest path to follow tend to be people who don't understand how hard writing really is. As a result, many of these writers put out work which needs serious polish to be read for pleasure.

    Of course, that's not true in every case - there are always exceptions to the rule - but many of the self-pubbed books I've stumbled across have left me wanting, and that's never good.

    One thing which makes a huge difference for a writer - no matter how they're published - is having friends who believe in you. Your friend has that going for her, and that's a great and wonderful thing.

    Happy TT!

  2. Those are not encouraging stats, are they? Thanks for sharing them.

    I wish more people read not just for book sales, but so that as a nation the United States on the whole could overcome its current mode of stupid. We have to be the most illiterate super power ever.

  3. Kimberly Menozzi,
    Thanks. Did I ever tell you I admire you too? :)

  4. Country Dew,
    Even though I reported these statistics, some don't fit with my experience--most people I know are readers. My friends are always passing me read-worthy literature.

  5. My favorite statistic you shared was the one about Strunk & White being both self-published and the best selling writer/reference guide of all time. Elements of Style is my Bible!

    I agree with Kimberly, there are tons of self-published writers out there who take the easy way out and aren't ready. As a soon-to-be-self-published writer, I can say that in order to be successful, you *must* put massive amounts of time, energy, and money into it. You *must* hire an excellent editor. You *must* create a spectacular cover. You *must* market the devil out of it. In some ways, self-publishing can be much harder than traditional publishing, but the advantage is that when it's all said and done, it's all YOURS. :-)

    Thanks for this eye-opening post, Brenda. I'm going to check out Erin Danzer now. :-)

  6. Thanks KendallGrey,
    Erin and I appreciate your interest. :) Thanks.

  7. Interesting info. I've gone e-reader myself.

    Have a great Thursday!

  8. I am Harriet,
    Yeah, I think a lot of people will switch to e-readers. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Congratulations to your friend Erin Danzer and her Mason Ridge Trilogy! *throwing confetti*

    I have to say I'm SHOCKED and truly appalled that 80% of American families did not purchase a book last year. That frightens me down to my deepest core.

  10. Soem interesting facts, Brenda! I am happy to report that my family is not among the 80% of Americans who did not buy books in the last year. In fact, sis, bil, niece and I spent more than $200 collectively on books just last weekend. I honestly can't imagine not buying or reading a single book, ever.

  11. Thanks for posting the stats. I live in a bubble where everyone is a reader and most of them are writers with small or traditional presses, so I forget. It's always good to get an outside view.

    Happy TT,

    13 Sleep Supplements

  12. Depressing figures, but sadly so true.
    Just to rub it in, the word verification word is: tonic ;-)

  13. Julie Smith,
    I'm hoping that the 80% of families who didn't buy books last year will make up for it this year. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Heather,
    I know you're a reader. I regularly visit to read your reviews. :)

  15. Alice Audrey,
    Yep, it seems the statistics aren't in writers' favor. I'm hoping it changes.

  16. Xakara,
    I know what you mean. I think I'm in the same bubble.

  17. anthonynorth,
    Ah, wow, even the word verification is against us writers? Luckily, we're brave.

  18. #1, I am one of those people. Happy T13!

  19. Some truly frightening facts here, for example no. 3.

  20. Mercy,
    Awesome. I'm with you-- one of the people who thinks they have books in their brains and stories to tell. :)

  21. Rikki,
    Yeah, that's the hardest one for me to believe because I'm always buying books, visiting my local libraries, or coming across someone's blog that features a favorite novel.

  22. This was a fabulous read! Thanks for all the info. I use to read about 40 books a year and have drastically reduced that because I work all the time (two jobs). I have been blogging for about seven years and multiple times have been encouraged to take it seriously....I guess it will take me taking myself seriously!lol. thank you for visiting my little old jnl.bloggie.


  23. I've always wondered about people who want to write a novel but don't actually read them. Why would they want to write one?

    We're voracious readers in this family. Including my husband, who loves to read, but the pressures on his time means he only reads a few novels a year. And I consider him a reader compared to most people.

  24. I found many of these statstics to be surprising considering I am a voracious reader - as is my spouse and we love books in our household and read many books from cover to cover!

  25. alphawoman,
    I'm glad to know you're a reader. I think bloggers read. We should do a study on that. Thanks for commenting.

  26. Ella Drake,
    You know, they say good readers are good writers. In your case, I believe that's very true. :)

  27. Julie,
    Very cool. We readers should unite! I encourage you to keep reading and I will too.

  28. Very interesting information that you have gathered. I am astounded that there are people who do not read as our family of four can be seen walking around with books. we have a book waiting for a movie to start. my son walks and read on his way home for school.
    thanks for educating us more. I hope this enlightens others.

  29. Maggie,
    It's great you guys are readers. I think reading enhances your life. Thanks for stopping by.