Do You Have the Wrong Expectation?

“If you self-publish, expect to sell less than 100 copies of your book.”

These words were spoken by a Christian author on a marketing panel at the recent CBA Unite International Show. This particular author was both a traditionally-published author and an independently-published author. She had published books using both routes.

The authors on this panel were sharing the lessons they had learned in marketing their books. After making this statement, the author neglected to talk about what authors could do to help ensure that they sold more than 100 copies of an independently-published book.

I am happy to say that I strongly disagree with this author’s statement. I don’t believe that any self-published author needs to “expect” to sell less than 100 copies of a book.

Expect means “to regard as likely to happen.” Truthfully, up to 99% of self-published books do sell less than 100 copies. However, this statistic does not reflect what an author should “expect.”

Most self-published books sell less than 100 copies because the author does not market the book effectively. Too many self-published authors have the idea “if I publish my book, people will buy and read it.” This mindset sets an author up for failure.

With over 1,300 books are published every day in America. The competition for readers’ money and attention is stiff. How many copies you sell of your book is largely dependent on the quality of your book and on your marketing efforts.

Having sold thousands of copies of an independently-published book, I can attest to the fact that you do not need to “expect” to sell less than 100 copies. What you do need is:

  1. A basic understanding of the book publishing and selling industry.
  2. A strong selling point or promise to your reader.
  3. To know and understand how to reach your target audience.
  4. To invest time and money in marketing your book to your target audience.

If you need to gain knowledge and information in any of these four areas, resources exist to help you. Some of these resources include:

Don’t expect failure. Instead, plan and act for success. You can expect to sell more than 100 copies of a self-published book with some knowledge and effort.

Related Posts:
Are You Expecting Fast Results?
Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market

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Photo courtesy of Vincent van Zalinge

Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market

I recently wrote “Four Publishing Trends for 2017” to talk about what I believe the industry is going to continue to witness this year. One of the trends I mentioned was that the number of books published will continue to exponentially outpace the growth rate of reading.

This idea is not novel. After all, I reported that it was a trend. It is a trend that has been happening and will continue to happen. I am not the only person in the publishing industry who has noticed this trend.


Mark Coker the founder of the ebook publishing and sales platform Smashwords recently released his predictions for 2017. In these predictions, he states:

The glut will grow more pronounced. There’s a glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks. These ebooks are immortal and will never go out of print. Thanks to low-cost virtual shelf space, retailers can stock these ebooks forever—even if the books don’t sell. Although it’s great that your book will forever occupy the shelf, and forever be discoverable and purchasable by new readers, it also means that the virtual shelves are becoming more overcrowded every day. The major ebook retailers each stock millions of ebook titles in their online stores, with Amazon fast approaching five million titles. Every day from yesterday forward it will become more challenging to stand out.

This statement is not just true for ebooks; it is true for print books as well. Online bookstores have unlimited shelf space for print books, and since these books can sit in POD until they are ordered, no actual shelf space is needed to store the books.
In an overcrowded market, it is difficult for any one book to stand out and catch readers’ attention. Authors who want to sell books in this overpopulated environment must focus on developing an audience for their books.

If you are interested in learning more about audience development, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Develop an Audience for Your Books. This 50-minute streaming video walks you through the steps you can take to develop an audience of people who will purchase your books. Instruction covers what an audience is, the importance of an audience, and strategies to develop an audience. You can view this on-demand seminar for just $20 at

As always, members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) have free access to this on-demand seminar on CSPA’s website.

If you want to sell books, audience development is not an option. It should be an integral part of marketing strategy, not an afterthought.

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Book Review Scare
Branding: It’s More Important Than You Think
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