Yesterday we talked about how it can be difficult to get an agent or traditional publisher if you had a self-pub book that didn’t sell. But that begs the question: What if you have a traditionally published book (or multiple books) that didn’t sell very well? Will that cause problems selling future books?
In fact, if you have two or three books, traditionally published, that each sold, say, 5,000 to 8,000 copies, it will be so difficult to overcome that you’d be better off if you were a brand-new, never published author.
Now, this isn’t to say it would be impossible to sell a book to a publisher under these circumstances. But it takes an awesome idea – a truly breakout book with a unique and completely saleable hook – and it takes some finesse on the part of your agent to make this happen. With non-fiction, a terrific platform can help.
Why is is so difficult? It’s not just the publishers. They often wish they could take these kinds of risks. They see a project with merit and they might really, really want to publish it. But those three books with so-so sales are their sticking point. Why is it such a big deal?
It’s the buyers – the retailers who stock books. When the publisher is telling the buyer about a new book from a previously published author, the buyer may not even listen to the pitch. They may not even be interested in what the sales person has to say about how great your book is, how this is your break-out book, how you have this incredible marketing platform. No, the buyer may just say, “Hold on,” and type your name into their computer, pulling up each of your previous books and exactly how many copies of those books they sold.
They buyer will place their order based on how many they sold before.
And if they hardly sold any copies of your previous books, the buyer may decide to pass. “Nope, I don’t need any of those, what’s next on your list?”
In this digital world, everyone has almost every piece of information at their fingertips. This is why a few books with mediocre sales can make it difficult to get more books published.
But what constitutes a book selling poorly? Obviously, this will depend on the size of the publisher and the genre of the book. But in nearly all cases, a string of books that all sold fewer than 10,000 copies will make it difficult for you to publish with a major publisher.
But like I said… not impossible.
I’m not telling you this because I want to be discouraging. Just one more piece of reality you should be aware of on this treacherous publishing journey!
Q4U: In light of this reality, what are some things you could do, in hopes of not ending up in this situation?
[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]