It's all in the numbers.
Regarding Neilsen Bookscan's tracked sales of books for 2004 (1.2 million), here are the results:
- Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
- Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
- Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
- Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.
- Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.
- The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies.
Okay, we all know the bulk of the "99 copies and under" category came from POD publishers. What's really disturbing is that only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies. Talk about a dying industry. I think I'm going to burn my television on the front lawn.
And fewer than 500 books sold more than 100,000 copies? What? The fact that the term "bestseller" represents how fast a title sells really distorts the total sales of a book. Most people (who are not in the publishing industry) assume a bestseller has sold hundreds of thousands of copies--even millions.
And only 10 books sold more than 1,000,000 units? I'm not even sure I believe that. I can think of 20 off the top of my head that I assumed sold that many. That means each major publishing conglomerate (bad word, I know) only gets 1 or 2 million-copy-seller per year?
We're lucky to get advances at all.
The only way to sell your title in this day and age is to think outside of the cube, man.