Published: June 5, 2013

The number of self-published titles has exploded in the last decade, but most of the books are read only by friends and family. This information comes from Mark Levine’s helpful book The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Here are the numbers: In 2002, 32,639 books were self-published. That number jumped to 764,000 by 2009.

Most of these self-published books are not read, according to Levine. In 2004, Nielson tracked 1.2 million books sold through retailers—bookstores and online:

  • 79% sell less than 99 copies
  • 16.67% (200,000 books) sell less than 1,000 copies
  • Est. 2.2 % (roughly 26,000 books) sell between 1,000 and 5,000 books
  • 2.1 % (25,000) sell more than 5,000 copies
  • 0.04 % sell more than 100,000 copies
  • 10 books sell one million copies or more

The moral of the story: You need to write a book that your audience wants to read. It needs a cover that makes that audience want to buy it. And finally, people won’t buy your book or read it unless they know about it and can find it.

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