Now that CyberKill will be released shortly from my publisher TrapDoor Books, my thoughts turn to selling copies. So, I thought, how many books sold make one a midlist author?
How many books do first-time authors sell?
Get this. Over 195,000 new novels are published by traditional publishers – not including self-published books – in the U.S. every year. Of those, 70% sell fewer than 500 copies.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, an editor at Tor Books, in an interview on io9.com shed some light on the midlist numbers.
“Most books sell 5, 10, or 15 thousand copies. Most are midlist books.”
So it seems that an author is considered midlist if he sells an average of 10,000 brooks and if he gets a small advance for his first novel like below $5000, the book is considered a success by the publisher.
This jives with my experience of publishing non-fiction books. I was told by publishers that over 20,000 books sold is considered a very good success and the author would be considered for future books. I sold over 25,000 copies of two of my books and they were considered roaring success.
This also jives with Dan Brown’s experience. He sold a grand total of 20,000 copies of his first three books – including Angles and Demons – and yet was still considered for the Da Vinci Code.
So, I hope that my first novel, CyberKill, sells those 10-25,000 copies so I can become known as a midlist author.