Best Seller Numbers

How many copies could a first time author expect to sell?

There are so many variables that effect sales…you can “expect” whatever you want but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. If you are with DB or Covenant, with good access to the LDS market, your expected sales numbers are going to be higher than if you’re with a smaller publisher who may or may not be able to get you into the DB or Seagull stores/websites. It also depends on whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction.

When we take on a new fiction author, we aim for their first book to sell around 2,000 copies. That’s our break-even mark.

What is the “magic number” of copies that makes a book a best seller in the LDS market?

Best seller is open to interpretation. There really isn’t an industry-defined standard. Some companies figure they have a best seller if they go into a second printing. In my opinion (and I’ve been told by colleagues that my numbers are both too high and too low), for fiction in the LDS market only (not titles that are intended for a national market), I wouldn’t award that label until sales went over 10,000; at 40,000+ I’d be dancing in the streets.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

4 thoughts on “Best Seller Numbers”

  1. Again, that’s why I haven’t written to the LDS market. I figure I can put the same values into a nationally accepted book, and reach more people and make more money (at least in theory).


  2. Or less. Lots of nationally publihsed authors sell a lot less than that. But I would agree that the upside is higher.

  3. There are distinct advantages to publishing in the LDS market. In addition to the royalties (which aren’t as bad as some imply, okay not great either, but I make more than a friend who publishes with Harlequin)new authors get more advertising than most national releases, and there’s the matter of having people around you in addition to family who actually read your books. There are speaking and signing opportunities that are harder to come by in the national market. There’s also deep spiritual satisfaction that comes with letters from readers who write to say your book has had an impact on their lives. LDS novels enjoy a longer shelf life too than most national releases, so the royalties keep coming for a much longer period of time and often end up earning more than a comparable book on the national market receives.
    P.S. It’s nice to know that by the numbers listed here all but a couple of my books fall in the best seller category. lol

  4. My first fiction book sold upwards of 4,000 plus. I was sad because I thought it hadn’t done well. And yes, I went with a smaller publisher. I guess I won’t feel so bad now, but I’m definitely shooting for higher numbers with every single book I have published.

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