Before I was a published author, there were a great many things I didn’t know about the whole book-publishing business. I certainly had a few preconceived notions about being an author, as I’m sure many people do, most of which have turned out to be false. I’m still learning every day, but I know so much more now than when I first set off on the path of traditional publication back in 2015.
I’m at what you could call an “in-between” stage in my writing career right now. My debut novel, Not Our Summer, came out in 2021, and then the book I completed after that didn’t gain any traction. As of this week, I’ve just finished another round of revisions and sent off my latest book to my agent. If I do end up going on sub with this book soonish, it will still likely be a year or three before it ever sees the light of day. Have I mentioned that traditional publishing is S-L-O-W??? As in, extremely. But there’s not much anyone can do about that.
Anyhoo, since I have a little time on my hands before I dig back into another project, I thought it would be fun to share some interesting publishing stats in a blog post. So here goes!
What’s the average advance amount for first-time authors?
First of all, if you aren’t familiar with what an advance is, it’s the amount of money an author gets up front upon signing a contract with a publisher. It may be paid all at once (usually when the edits are turned in) or it may be paid in installments (at different points throughout the publication process). Advances can range widely, and many small publishers don’t pay an advance at all (instead usually giving the author higher royalty rates). But according to multiple sources, the average advance for a debut novel ranges from $5000-$15,000. And for inquiring minds, yes, I was somewhere in the middle of that with my debut.
How many authors can live off their book sales alone?
It’s funny how people equate the word “author” with “rich” but in reality, this just isn’t true. Most authors work other full-time or part-time jobs and cannot live solely off of their book earnings. In fact, according to statista.com, 66% of emerging authors work a day job (which seems a little low if you ask me). According to this same source, 20% of authors who make over $100k with their books still work a day job.
There are, of course, a few authors who do quite well with their books and book-related income. You probably know most of their names.
How many books are published each year?
While getting a book published can feel like a nearly impossible task, there are plenty new titles that come out every year. Exactly how many? There’s a bit of discrepancy and it probably depends on the year. According to UNESCO, around 2.2 million new books were published in 2017, and according to Zippia.com, over 4 million books were published in 2021. Yet another site (tonebuzzer.com) says that 700,000 to one million new book titles are released every year. According to this same site, nearly half of new books are self published and only sell a handful of copies, however.
Which book format sells the best?
According to zippia.com, almost half of all book sales are hardback books, followed by paperback, e-book, and finally, audiobooks.
Which bookseller sells the most books worldwide?
So maybe this one isn’t all that surprising. It’s Amazon. In fact, many people believe that Amazon is quickly approaching monopoly status in the publishing realm. They control 80% of all book distribution in the U.S., keeping their prices so low that competitors can’t really compete. Need even more reason to support local bookstores? This is definitely it.
Who are the biggest publishers worldwide?
According to eliteauthors.com, the following publishers are at the top:
- Pearson (London, England)
- RELX (London, England)
- Thomson Reuters (Toronto, Canada)
- Penguin Random House (New York, USA)
- Hachette Livre (Paris, France)
What does it take for a book to be a bestseller?
To be on the NYT bestsellers list, between 5,000 and 10,000 copies must sell in one week. But according to elliteauthors.com, it’s not just sales numbers that earn books their bestselling status; sales must also be diverse, coming from several different booksellers (in other words, not just Amazon).
Is the young adult heyday on its way out?
In the late 2000s and 2010s, the young adult market seemed to be doing quite well with uber-popular series like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, but the good news is that today, it’s even stronger. According to tonerbuzz.com, YA fiction sales increased 30.7% in 2021!
Is the book industry a dying industry?
While many might think otherwise, the short answer is no. The book industry actually saw a rise in sales during the pandemic and is expected to keep growing. According to zippia.com, print sales increased by 8.2% in 2020 and new, self-published books increased by 264% from 2015-2020. E-books and audiobooks have also increased sales by 12.6% and 12%, respectively.
Have a stat to add or an opinion on one of these? Feel free to share in the comments!