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Friday, 23 November 2012

Bev Robitai shares Catherine Howard's post

I read a blog post this week that got me wondering. Here was an author who was selling 1000 copies of her novel in 8 months and she considered it a failure. Here are some key points from her article…

“Results Not Typical was, sales-wise, a complete disaster. Despite a 21—21!—stop blog tour to herald its arrival, excellent reviews from influential book blogger sites and my existing readership, it sold in 8 months what Mousetrapped sells in the month of January: about 1,000 copies. This doesn’t sound so bad until you consider that I gave away over 25,000 copies of it through free promotions and that when I unpublished it, it only had 18 Amazon reviews. I even changed the cover mid-way through, but after an initial bump it had little to no effect.

So I unpublished the paperback through CreateSpace, and a few weeks later, the Kindle edition disappeared too.

In all the time it’s been unpublished, maybe 4 or 5 people have mentioned its unpublication to me. And this is a good thing. Great, even.

I think as self-publishers we assume that everything we do is out in the open, noticed by all. For instance, let’s say you have a novel that’s $2.99 and you want to charge 99c for it for a while. You might feel obliged to inform your blog readers, or your newsletter subscribers or your Facebook fans, explaining why you’re doing this, hoping they won’t be upset if they’ve already paid full price for it. When you put the price back up, you might feel obliged to do the same.

BUT NO ONE NOTICES. There is only one moment when people absorb the details of a book, and that’s when they’re buying it. If I buy your book for $2.99, when am I ever going to notice that it’s now 99c? I’m not watching your book listings like you are. I don’t care; my relationship with the book is over now. And this is a good thing.

Feel free to experiment as much as you want. Up the price. Drop the price. Bundle. Separate. Unpublish. Re-publish, with new material. Do whatever you like. No one’s watching until you tell them to.”

Read the full article at

I don’t know about you, but I’d be delighted with selling 1000 copies in 8 months, and I certainly wouldn’t unpublish the book to remove it from any chance of discovery. It can take time and a number of titles to build your market – why would you handicap yourself like that?
Any thoughts?




  1. My advice would be - don't unpublish at any cost. Except, of course, if you find you've made a horrible blunder. Lucky lady to have sold that number of books in 8 months. I wonder why she's whingeing? Maybe the book just wasn't up to scratch in the first place.

  2. That sales figure is OK - it's about what a typical book might sell over the same period in the NZ retail market. Nothing to complain about! One of the hard realities of publishing is that not every book is going to do well. Most publishers rely on a few top-sellers to keep their margins up, while publishing other work that's less lucrative because the flip-side of the calculation is having a good list. That's going to be equally true of self-publishers. My take? Nothing too much to worry about...and even if it seems to tank, every sale is another $2.99 income that the author wouldn't otherwise have had.