Self-Publishing Part 11: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Why only 500 books? Why not 5,000? Ten thousand?

The 500 copies sold is a first mile-marker, not an end goal, which also happens to come with serious benefits for books on iUniverse’s Traditional Publishing Path like A Perfect Blindness.

For me and this novel, hitting 500 in physical sales means iUniverse becomes the book’s agent. I get someone to work with, helping me sell more books, a person with access to people I can’t reach directly such as editors at traditional publishing houses, people selecting what to read for book clubs, audiobook producers, and various other decision makers. They also have access to contests and reviewers that are available only to publishing houses.

In other words, not only does a whole new world of opportunity open up, but I get an industry professional at my back. This agent is motivated to sell the book—the more it sells, the more money we both make.

If it reaches this mark in the first year, other opportunities open up, as this shows it has some momentum, such as new book contests and lists for first-year books. Hitting 500 in sales after a year, a book will still get the agent, but by then, the book is getting to be old news, competing with all the new titles pouring into the market. The 500 is for physical copies only.

Then, there is the psychological value of this number.

We’ve all heard the old saw that most self-published books sell fewer than 250 copies. A book selling 500 copies not only breaks this barrier but doubles it.

So once meeting the 500 softcover level and getting the agent and those benefits, the next mile marker is 1000 books, and then 10,000. Tim Grahl points out that if a book reaches 10K in sales, it tends to keep on selling, well into the future, without a much effort behind it. These three numbers then are the mile marker goals for A Perfect Blindness: get Star Designation at 500 copies, then sell 1000 books, and then 10,000.

Sure it’s fun to think of 10K books being sold, but I know I must put my mind towards and act toward getting 500 copies sold, first.

Another interesting point Tim Grahl makes about the 500 copy mile marker: in addition to it doubling the fewer than “average number” of books sold is that people typically have roughly 250 contacts, people they can reach out to directly and hopefully have them buy the book. So if you sell 500 books, you’ll have sold the book to all your contacts and then, roughly speaking, 250 to strangers.

I just checked my address book and found I have 2095 cards. I also don’t recognize a fair number and see that many are business contacts, others are restaurants or helplines. Perhaps 10%-ish are people I still know. Add to that my wife’s contacts, and yeah, I imagine finding at least 250 people who I could approach with the book. In one way or another. So sure, those numbers seem to bear out for me.

If I approach all these people right, I’m halfway there. The trick is figuring out how to do that and then doing it. Then, it’s figuring out how to get an equal number of strangers to plop down almost $24.00.

Next up on Join the Adventure: Going it Mostly Alone—why the claim that self-published books sell fewer than 250 copies on average doesn’t mean what you think it does.


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To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.






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