David Gaughran

The average self-publisher sells 100 books. Or is it 200? And is that in a year? Or is it over the lifetime of the book? The problem is, we have no idea at all, no way of measuring how we are doing.

Any “hard” numbers we have about self-publishing are either hopelessly out of date, or use (very) imperfect measures, such as the number of ISBNs registered in a given year, and then number of print editions bearing those ISBNs sold in outlets captured by Neilsen Bookscan.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. The most glaring is that a self-publisher could sell thousands and thousands of books without every getting an ISBN or creating a print edition (and many do just that).

Traditional publishers have all sorts of metrics. One that I like quoting here are the monthly AAP figures, which give us a rough idea of what…

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