For example, books that are sold to libraries don't get counted. Books that speakers sell in the back of the room don't get counted. Books sold at some indies don't get counted. This article gives more detail on what gets missed.Donna gasped:
"For example, books that are sold to libraries don't get counted." WHAT???
"Books that speakers sell in the back of the room don't get counted." Okay, that one makes sense.
Books sold at some indies don't get counted. WHAT???
I think she might have looked like this when she was reading the blog
To keep Donna from fainting dead away, and to clear up some terminology let's talk about what "sales figures" can mean.
1. Sales figures can mean the number of actual books you sell. The ONLY place this info is found is on your royalty statement. Your editor may tell you "oh wow, we shipped one million copies, that's great!" but remember, almost all books are sold on consignment. They can be returned. And boy howdy, do books get returned. One hopes that returns will be low, but most publishers expect about 30% return rate. That means of the one million you shipped, only 700,000 are actually sold. Your editor doesn't know the returns number. The royalty department will. Thus, your royalty statement is the most accurate accounting of sales.
2. Sales figures can mean the number of books that Bookscan (a private company that collects sales data) sees. They do not see sales to libraries (thus library sales aren't counted). They don't see information from every indie store. They don't see sales information if you sell books at a speech in the back of the room.
BUT all those books (libraries, indies, BOR) are all on your royalty statement.
3. Sales figures can mean what people see on Amazon or BN.com, or PW Bestseller lists. Again, those don't count everything, and Amazon's "rankings" don't measure quantity at all. They measure quantity over time, relative to other books. It's a VERY volatile, unreliable number although I've known writers and agents to game out what the approximate number of books would have to be for a particular ranking. (Yes, these people have way too much time on their hands, and yes, I might be one of them.)
So, when someone talks about sales figures, make sure you know which set they mean.
And if anyone asks you how your book is selling there's only one answer:
If you need more on why that is the ONLY answer, check out the blog post on book promotion here.