Thursday, May 19, 2011

Confronting the Hard Numbers, and I Feel (sorta) Fine

Today I got an update on the hard numbers on the first run of my book, now out a year. Of the whole (smallish) print run, about 40% have sold. 50% remain. The rest, I assume, have been given away by the press as review or author's or prize copies (which, I have to admit, is pretty cool).

Honestly, there is a part of me that is disappointed that this book hasn't been a runaway success, selling out its first print run in less than a year.

Another part of me acknowledges that 40% is not too bad in this day and age.

Another part hopes that sales will go up when reviews really start coming out (only one so far, that I know of).

But the one lonely small, sane voice in my head tells me that it's not about the numbers, that I wrote a damn fine book that I can be proud of, and that that was my main goal all along. I'm gonna go ahead and listen to that voice for a while. Damn right, I will.

8 comments:

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I don't know nuthin about medieval shitte, and I thought your booke was fascinating.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thank you, Comrade! But how many copies did you buy for your friends and relations?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Academic books rarely sell a lot. So I would not sweat the number of sales. The impact is going to be based on other things. Most scholars who read the book will get it out of a library. I have measured the success of my own two academic books by the fact that over ten years after publication they are still being cited by other scholars. But, my overall sales like all academic books were pretty low.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I suppose I'd feel differently if I had actually published a book, but all I'm thinking is, hey, you published a book!! That's an awesome accomplishment. And if it's only been out for a year -- with only one review -- that's not really enough time (and notice) to generate a ton of sales. It'll happen. In the meantime, a book publication is great!

Jonathan Jarrett said...

The reviews are crucial, surely. You're only at stage one of a four-stage development of of a buying public, maybe five:

(i) hey man new book that looks cool
(ii) the peers seem to reckon this, I'd better get a copy for the library, maybe read it myself
(iii) people in my field have read Notorious 2010 and I still haven't
(iv) it's on my reading list, and
(v) I know it's twenty years old but Notorious 2010 is still the only thorough treatment of this issue, I recommend it to all my new graduate students

On that basis, I'd say shifting 40% of your print run entirely on the back of "hey man that looks cool" is pretty good going!

Tenured Radical said...

Actually, my book has steadily and determinedly sold between 150 and 200 copies a year since its publication 12 years ago. Despair not. And every year around February I get a cute check.

Anonymous said...

this is totally not related to anything. BUT i love how your unassigned reading is Lewis Mumford. I'm a planner and that makes my <3 happy. (also long time lurker and that made me come out of lurkdom ^_^)

Ink said...

Yes, that last paragraph!! Congrats!