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Moonraker

How did your book sell (if it was published)?

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Moonraker
Posted (edited)

During the "centenary years", we had a number of posts announcing books written by members or asking for advice on how to get texts published.

 

If you were one of these people, how was it for you?

 

Did your book sell as well as you'd hoped?

 

If you were looking for a publisher, how did you get on?

 

If you had a book already in print before 2014, did the centenary boost sales?

 

My two books came out in 2012, my having planned well ahead lest someone else got in ahead of me. The sales of Wiltshire have been a bit disappointing, and my sales income has yet to match the £500 advance from the publisher.  Back in 1999-2000, I shifted 420 copies of the first self-published edition without problem, without using the Internet (then in its infancy) and with hardly any follow-up calls to book-shops after the initial approaches.

 

I suppose that this first edition did queer the pitch for the second one, as the original purchasers wouldn't want the 2012 version (which does include  new material and illustrations).

 

I always realised that The Canadian Army ..  was a niche subject and that the cost of posting it across the Atlantic would be prohibitive. After the first year, annual sales were insufficient to justify royalty cheques.

 

No regrets, reviews have been good, though I still harrumph at one amateur reviewer of The Canadian Army ...  who reckoned that "exploring the topic in depth would require turning to another text" without saying what that would be.

 

Moonraker

 

Edited by Moonraker

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Bernard_Lewis

My "Swansea in the Great War" (2014) has sold 1,500+ copies though some of those were sold at a knock-down price to places like The Works etc., where they were sold at £7.99 instead of the cover price of £12.99. From memory, my wife and I sold about 250 of the 1,500+ copies at the book launch, talks that I gave, local book fairs etc. None left at home, now...

 

Bernard

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moggs

My eBook on my grandpa has sold 57 copies so far.  I didn't push it in the way that others may have.  For me, it wasn't about sales as much as writing it was something I just had to do.  If others also appreciated it then that was a bonus.  Of course, had it sold in the hundreds or even thousands I would not have complained.

 

Jonathan

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jonbem

Back in the late 1990's and early 2000's lots of "desk top publishing" programmes/applications etc appeared on magazine front cd's. I had a short while working for a repro company producing advertising, flyers, magazine stuff etc. We would often get people coming in asking to make stuff for promo. At the time a "home" printer was several hundred pounds, so people thought design themselves and just get local printer firm to do it. However it wasn't compatible with commercial print methods so would cost them more.

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voltaire60

As a semi-retired bookseller, then to me the term "sales" has departed as a concept for most of the stuff we would do. Yes, a physical print-run was the norm of yesteryear and the consequences flowed accordingly-  an author and/or publisher would basically guess the print-run.  If the print-run were too small, then there would be an unsated demand for the book and it would put a premium on it (my world of "second-hand and antiquarian"). If the print-run was too large, then there would be either pulping or remaindering. Either way, the mainstream British second-hand and antiquarian book trade would thrive  for one reason-the inability of British publishers to get their print-runs right.

 

     Now that has changed- POD  and other short-run schemes mean that an upfront print-run is no longer the norm for many authors.  A book that is POD on Amazon, say, may well still be available on Amazon at a POD price ,say,for the next 50 years-it is in print indefinitely. If platforms such as Amazon continue to list "books" that could be provided anew in hard copy, then the old concepts of "sales"  and "print-run" have become redundant.

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rolt968

My magnum opus is still in the writing stage. I have just completed the write up for my seventh war memorial, knowing that I have to re-write most of the other six since at least one and in some cases, two major sources have appeared since I wrote them. In the meantime I have started writing up war memorial number nine (I still have one mystery man on war memorial eight!).

 

I haven't got as far as looking at actual publishing yet. I don't expect it/them to be a best seller - more a labour of love!

 

(Those who know the works of Dorothy L Sayers will remember that in Gaudy Night there is an elderly don who is writing a book on English literature but who always thinks she should add a bit more or rewrite a section. I know how she felt!)

 

RM

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Bernard_Lewis

My old tutor on a local history diploma course offered sage advice about (endless) researching and writing:

 

"Have a target: like publishing it BEFORE you die..."

 

Bernard

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seaJane
6 hours ago, rolt968 said:

elderly don who is writing a book on English literature but who always thinks she should add a bit more or rewrite a section

Ah! Miss Lydgate's Prosody of the English Language. I think Harriet manages to escape with the proofs by ignoring the last call for another footnote.

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rolt968
23 minutes ago, seaJane said:

Ah! Miss Lydgate's Prosody of the English Language. I think Harriet manages to escape with the proofs by ignoring the last call for another footnote.

Correct. Thank you. Try as I could I couldn't bring the name to mind.

RM

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Resurgam13

I had three books published by a University Press in the 1990s. There were great hopes for the first in the trilogy and, although it appeared to sell well, the royalty cheque never seemed to match expectations. Eventually, while the third volume was literally at the printers, a new Vice-Chancellor decided to shut down the Press and I was offered the chance to buy back all remaining stock of the three books (hundreds of the first volume; far fewer of the second and third). I set up web-sites for all three, with the complete text on each, a decision I was told was crazy, but I gambled that people would rather buy the books then spend a fortune printing them out and volumes II and III quickly sold out, though I still, to this day, have a few dozen left of volume I.

 

The galling thing is that now, if they do appear on the usual sites (ABE, Amazon), the asking price for II and III is well into three figures – more than I was paid for writing them.

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voltaire60

Resurgam-  Go on tell!!    We may want to buy

 

(Are you perhaps Plymothian?- the ship and the use of resurgam suggests so- resurgam was the motto placed above the main door of the burnt-out St Andrews in the City Centre after the first of the big German raids in 1941 which destroyed much of the centre)

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Uncle George
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

Resurgam-  Go on tell!!    We may want to buy

 

(Are you perhaps Plymothian?- the ship and the use of resurgam suggests so- resurgam was the motto placed above the main door of the burnt-out St Andrews in the City Centre after the first of the big German raids in 1941 which destroyed much of the centre)

 

This was a conscious echo of the stone placed at St Paul’s after the Great Fire destroyed the old building. 

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Resurgam13

I. Superior Force : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau

 

II. Straits : British Policy Towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign

 

III. The Millstone : British Naval Policy in the Mediterranean, 1900 - 1914, the Commitment to France and British Intervention in the War

 

(“Resurgam” is a minor conceit : “GAM” = my initials, and it seemed appropriate for a change of career)

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Malcolm12hl

My commemorative book on the 108 First World War dead of my Surrey village was published by the parish church (almost exactly on 11 November 2018) and has so far sold about 100 copies (a few via Amazon).  It was never intended as a commercial venture (I waived all royalties) and was undertaken very much as a memorial to those who fell, with the audience probably not extending far beyond the population of this mid-sized semi-suburban village.  I have written a number of books on a range of subjects, some academic, some not, but this was the most satisfying from a personal point of view.

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voltaire60
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Resurgam13 said:

I. Superior Force : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau

 

II. Straits : British Policy Towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign

 

III. The Millstone : British Naval Policy in the Mediterranean, 1900 - 1914, the Commitment to France and British Intervention in the War

 

(“Resurgam” is a minor conceit : “GAM” = my initials, and it seemed appropriate for a change of career)

 

     I note a copy-paperback- of "Superior Force" on ABE  for a mere £175-and signed by someone called "the author".  Have you noticed any old friend or colleague who seems remarkably wealthier in recent times?   :wub:

 

       ........ and, having done International History at LSE, I wondered if the LSE Library had your works-I was brought up on Halpern.  Answer-No.  What was a little worrying  was that the Library of the University of Hull  also does not have 2 of the 3 listed. Have you upset the university?...Just a thought

Edited by voltaire60

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KONDOA

I have no idea how many of my effort have sold. It's on lots of book sellers lists worldwide and reviews on Amazon are favourable but few. EBay seems to be the active outlet and it is regularly listed or relished. I never receive a cheque despite the publishing agreement suggesting I would. It is still selling apparently as it's POD and had a revision a couple of years ago which was easy to facilitate. I will stick to my day job but am proud of my book and the nine years of effort to complete it.

 

Roop

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Resurgam13

"Superior Force" and "Straits" were both fairly widely distributed. "Superior Force" only appeared in paperback, but there was a short hardback print run (I was told one hundred) of "Straits" intended solely for libraries, which sold out. "The Millstone" suffered from being at the printers when the University Press was shut down, and very few were distributed. What I do not understand is why no copy appears to be held at the British Library.

 

As far as the University of Hull goes, it doesn't surprise me.

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jonbem
36 minutes ago, Resurgam13 said:

As far as the University of Hull goes, it doesn't surprise me.

Perhaps the "yoof" of Orchard Park estate in North Hull have borrowed them to see if any hints and pointers for their guerrilla tactics?

Whether to read or just look at the pictures may be debatable. :ph34r:

 

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steve fuller

1st Bedfordshires parts one and two, 1,000 run on each, all gone (bar maybe a copy or two here and there that people just cant get rid of for love nor money :innocent:

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Rick Law

Flowers of the Forest (Tellwell Press) by Richard Law, has sold about 150 copies in a year. It is POD and still available on Amazon UK and Amazon CA. I have only advertised and sold through Social Media (FB mostly).  I am taking it on the road this year.

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Bernard_Lewis
On 13/05/2019 at 12:22, Resurgam13 said:

"Superior Force" and "Straits" were both fairly widely distributed. "Superior Force" only appeared in paperback, but there was a short hardback print run (I was told one hundred) of "Straits" intended solely for libraries, which sold out. "The Millstone" suffered from being at the printers when the University Press was shut down, and very few were distributed. What I do not understand is why no copy appears to be held at the British Library.

 

As far as the University of Hull goes, it doesn't surprise me.

The publisher is required to send deposit copies to several 'important' libraries. I did that for my sole self-published book (a rugby tome) and, IIRC, received an acknowledgement. 

 

Bernard

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Nick Thornicroft

I wrote a book about the capture of La Boisselle in early July 1916, entitled 'Dauntless Courage On The Somme', which came out on the centenary. I don't know how many copies were originally printed but it (inevitably) soon ended up at a reduced price on a well known military bookseller's website. 

 

It's a bit of a 'niche' subject, covering one particular stage of the wider Somme battles, so unless a potential reader had/has a particular interest in that specific location then it may not be one to be added to his or her wish list.

 

I recently had a look on 'Bookfinder' & was surprised to discover how many individuals/organisations have a copy for sale, dotted around the world. Such is the nature of the internet these days, I suppose.

 

I think most Great War authors have discovered that the amount of research & time taken to write a book on this era is rarely financially rewarding, but for most that isn't the motivation for starting out in the first place.

 

Nick

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KONDOA
Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Nick Thornicroft said:

I wrote a book about the capture of La Boisselle in early July 1916, entitled 'Dauntless Courage On The Somme', which came out on the centenary. I don't know how many copies were originally printed but it (inevitably) soon ended up at a reduced price on a well known military bookseller's website. 

 

It's a bit of a 'niche' subject, covering one particular stage of the wider Somme battles, so unless a potential reader had/has a particular interest in that specific location then it may not be one to be added to his or her wish list.

 

I recently had a look on 'Bookfinder' & was surprised to discover how many individuals/organisations have a copy for sale, dotted around the world. Such is the nature of the internet these days, I suppose.

 

I think most Great War authors have discovered that the amount of research & time taken to write a book on this era is rarely financially rewarding, but for most that isn't the motivation for starting out in the first place.

 

Nick

Yes, I was told by a mainstream military publisher  that my unit history and the 324 men involved was little more than family history because I used real diary reference material. I published myself in the end, against the ad vice of said publisher, and so far as I know it's been well received by the niche market it targeted.

Edited by KONDOA

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seaJane
1 hour ago, KONDOA said:

many individuals/organisations have a copy for sale

Some of those organisations will be different clearing stations using the same repository, so the number for sale may be about 1/3 less than you think...

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clive_hughes

I suspect I'm fortunate in that my sole centenary offering (again a bit niche) concerning recruitment in north-west Wales 1914-16 was written at the request of the publisher, who financed it.  It came out in 2014-15 in two paperback versions (English and Welsh) and I duly got a nice cheque for my pains, plus a few small royalty ones each year.  Five years on, I'm now told there will be no more royalties and that the volume may be offered at a reduced price.  I think there were 500 of each printed?  

 

I'm entitled to buy copies at a discount, and have sometimes done so; but perhaps it's time I made further enquiries as to how and where the reduced price ones can be accessed?  It means I can simply give some copies to people who genuinely help my ongoing research project.   

 

   

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