The Impact Previous Book Sales Have on Your Current Submission

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jun 20 2018

A reader asks:

If an author has a previous traditionally published book (not self-pubbed) that is not directly related to the query book, do you give much weight to how well it has sold or whether it was published by a smaller or larger house?

I’ll admit, I don’t always look at previous sales as much as an agent should, especially since it will impact how easily or well I can sell a book to a publisher. If I am taking on a new client, I pretty much go with my gut and my love for the author’s voice and the book. It’s probably not the smartest way to make business decisions, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

That being said, publishers are the ones actually forking over the money and they will look at sales of all your previously published books, including those you self-published. There might be times when they also feel so passionate about a project that they feel confident they can rebrand you despite those sales, but more often than not, those sales will determine whether or not they offer or, at the very least, how much the offer is for, even if the book is in a different genre.

Thank you for the question!

One response to “The Impact Previous Book Sales Have on Your Current Submission”

  1. Avatar Jerry Todt says:

    What do you consider a good amount of books sold from a previous first time author? I’ve read varying amounts. Some say 7-10 thousand while others say 5-8 thousand? I’ve even read a few people say 15-20 thousand!
    Thanks for professional opinion and this forum for us to ask questions.