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Self-Published Revisited

A comment appeared on my post about self-published works that I felt warranted its own post.

Question: Where do the agents and publishers get the sales numbers for a self-published book? The author? Does the author provide financials as proof? Or is there another way to know for sure how many copies have been sold (not just printed)?

Publishers and agents will get this information from Bookscan, and while we all know by now that Bookscan isn’t perfect, and you can read more in my previous post on the subject, we also know that it’s the go-to for publishing professionals when it comes to numbers.

And this is the struggle with Bookscan. If you’ve gotten even a few stores to carry your books it can tweak your numbers significantly and, if you’re getting the kinds of numbers most publishers and agents are looking for, it should appear somewhere on Bookscan.


Category: Blog



  1. Slightly off point but re: the whole self-pubbing thing and how it looks to trad publishers if you try to go that route…are there levels of self-publishinng? Like someone says Wheatmark looks better than Lulu, but it's still self publishing. Wheatmark offers editing, but I think as an add on??

    And another friend says his book was "accepted" (his word) by Mascot books, who will illustrate and produce it for the low low price of 10K. Mascot has its own line of books dealing with college and sports mascot-themed books for kids and their books are in regular book stores, at least the sports themed ones. He thinks if he goes that route it's a "higher level" and will look more professional and exclusive down the road. I say self pubbed is self-pubbed and however it looks it looks the same. Any insight?

  2. I think your friend is fooling itself. Said publisher isn't really going to do anything. I don't know anything about them, but they're mostly just taking your friends money.

    The people who've done all right with self-publishing did so, because they sold the crap out of their books themselves. No Vanity press is going to actually do more than pretend to market a title.

    Which in a strange sense makes them not that different from NY publishers.. ha ha just kidding

  3. As a self-published author who's been picked up by a major, I'd have to say Dwight is right. Your friend is getting totally scammed for $10K. The only thing theiy're "accepting" is his money. He could hire a freelance illustrator and put the book into stores himself and probably pay a fraction of that cost.

    These days you don't need to spend big bucks to get a professional look. You can work though a company like Lightning Source, which does hardcover illustrated books and prints for major publishers such as Hatchette, so his book will look professional and be available through Ingram, a major distributor. Visit my blog (cheapindieauthor.blogspot) for more FREE information than you ever wanted to know about indie publishing a quality product for cheap.

  4. Thanks K.L and Dwight. It's touchy because he is very excited (I think he does think he's been accepted) and that it is a very big deal, so it's touchy to bring it up. But he is planning to put the 10K on his credit card and that just seems so risky.

  5. Thanks K.L and Dwight. It's touchy because he is very excited (I think he does think he's been accepted) and that it is a very big deal, so it's touchy to bring it up. But he is planning to put the 10K on his credit card and that just seems so risky.

    Oh my God. That's crazy talk! And your friend will never recoup his losses. I hope if you're able to talk some sense into him.

  6. But what about self-published authors who distribute their work through e-books? How then would an agent or editor check the numbers? Amazon sales rankings? Checking the best-sellers at OmniLit, BooksonBoard, et al? Emailing the author for their numbers?

  7. 10K? Excuse me but holy crap! You can have your manuscript edited professionally for about .03 a word. Anice average book would cost around $3,000 at best. Add in your publishing fees at iU or the like, and it still doesn't come to half of that, even with the buy-up BS programs they offer.

    Criminy! I'm in the wrong business. I should be fleecing authors!

  8. Miranda, that was the first intelligent thing anyone said on this post!

    The only aspect of modern publishing that seems even halfway rational has to be the different ripoffs going on.

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