Back to Basics 1: Facts about Trade Publishing

by | May 12, 2015 | Book Marketing Basics

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Back to Basics_ Facts about Trade Publishing, Get Published Today AME Blog Post

This spring, let’s go back to basics and focus on Publishing, more specifically, how you can Get Published Today. This week, Penny will give us the basics on trade publishing – what makes a book a “major success,” how do trade publishers make money, editing tips, and the relationship between publishers, authors, and marketing.

Facts about Trade Publishing

Here are some facts that might surprise you:

First, a book that sells 10,000 copies is considered a major success. Was this always the case? No. But with the amount of books filling the market, that’s a significant number unless you are Stephen King.

Trade publishing is driven by hits. On average, 10% of new books generate 90% of their profits. What does this mean to you? Well, publishers go after “star” titles; big names that can carry the list. For example, Dan Brown’s follow up to the Da Vinci Code was considered a star title and could carry an entire publishing house. If a publisher has 90% of so-so selling books but 10% of major titles, they are considered a success. To further drill this down, if you are in the 90% of what they consider so-so titles, you might not get the lion’s share of attention from their marketing department, if any at all. What do I mean by “so-so” title? This means that they may or may not sell well despite the work that’s been done on the book and estimated market.

If a book needs work, editors don’t have the time to devote to major revisions. What does this mean to you? It means that if you are submitting a book to a publisher, or even a book proposal to an agent, it must be clean. Get it edited, vetted, whatever you need to do to diminish the work that the agent/publisher/editor needs to do to get it to market. You might think your title is original, but for every book idea submitted, a hundred other similar titles are waiting to be approved, so despite the originality of the idea, the competition can still be fierce.

Publishers expect authors to participate in (if not run) their own marketing campaigns. Regardless of how you publish, you will be your own marketing department. Do not expect that a publishing house will take the reins of your campaign.

Book Facts

  • The average book sells 500 copies
  • 4,500 new books are published daily
  • Big publishers prefer big names (remember that 10% rule)
  • 38% of books are now sold online
  • 40% are sold out outside of bookstores



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