Writing Business Facts & Figures

Here are some great resources for facts and figures on the writing business.

How big are author advances and royalties? What makes a best seller? And other sales stuff

Tobias Buckell’s “Author Advance Survey 2.0” (Science Fiction & Fantasy author advances)

Brenda Hiatt’s “Show Me The Money!” (Romance advances and royalties)

How many books do authors have to sell to make a living?

How many books do best-selling authors sell?

How many books do average authors sell?

How adults select books to read

How libraries select books

The importance of a good cover: Laura Resnick’s take, JA Konrath’s experiment with Lee Goldberg

Can you make a living writing short stories?

How do writers break into the market?

Jim C. Hines’ results of “How writers break in” survey of professional authors (various, but slanted toward science fiction & fantasy, YA, and romance)

10_ers group’s “Selling Your First Children’s Novel” (Young Adult & Middle Grade; for details see Jen Nadol’s “Selling Your First Children’s Novel: A Poll“)

Megan Crewe’s poll of 270+ published authors busts the myth that you need to know the agent or editor to break in. Here are the results presented graphically.

How big is each genre?

Romance Writers of America’s “Industry Statistics” (includes breakdown of the whole market and details on the romance genre)


Robert Sawyer on:

Cumulative advantage and product popularity

Why J.A. Konrath thinks he keeps selling as many ebooks as he does

Kris Rusch: most effective promotion with ebooks = write a great story, write a lot of them, give samples

My take on marketing: it’s no different for books than any other product.

  1. Take action to get noticed by early adopter readers and make them a compelling offer. To get noticed and be able to make the offer to as many people as possible in your target audience, make the biggest marketing push you can, including PR, reviews, distribution, display, cover package (cover, title, copy), website, free chapters, blog, etc.–whatever works for your target market. You may have to market to various segments differently.
  2. The experience has to be satisfying enough that your customers come back for repeat business and tell others. This is especially critical for your early adopters. Without these early customers, there’s nobody to spread the word and build the level of word-of-mouth that you need. Make sure the experience is great every time they come back. Write the best dang book you can each time.
  3. Massive grassroot word-of-mouth or word-of-mouth from sources with large platform allows cumulative advantage to kick in.
  4. Most businesses take time to build a base of repeat customers. The more satisfied customers you have, the easier it becomes to win each additional customer. Every customer counts when starting a new business on a small scale.


Para Publishing book industry statistics


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