And because writers are an obsessive lot -- phoning Ingram, checking Amazon, comparing their recent advances to others, wondering what the hell royalty statements really mean -- I thought that publicizing some actual figures might do the trick. Or at least stir up discussion.
Over a three week period this summer, the following sales numbers were recorded for a NYT bestselling thriller writer's most recent book:
Anderson Merchandisers/Walmart: 47,671
I'm not sure what shocked me more: the unbelievably low number for Amazon, or just how powerful Walmart and Costco really are in the publishing business.
The author further adds:
For all their hype, the truth (and I've seen this with actual sales figures going back to 2000) is that Amazon numbers are tiny compared to virtually every other retail outlet.
Amazon makes their profit selling used books, not new ones. Maybe their low sales numbers was one of the determining factors to shift their focus toward used sales -- I don't know. But I do know that their numbers are insignificant to the pub in determining the success/failure of a book.
Surprised that some of the figures are so "low?" Bear in mind that a huge percentage of actual retail sales are from independents, grocery stores, pharmacies, outlets like that -- which don't report weekly numbers.
But the Walmart number is rather staggering, isn't it? It's one reason I put what little local/regional promotional efforts I do into cultivating Anderson reps and going on day-long road trips to sign and sticker stock for Walmarts. They get a hell of a lot of foot traffic, and sell a hell of a lot of books.
If there's a moral to the story (so to speak) it's that to get on the bestseller lists, it probably behooves the writer to get very friendly with the folks at Walmart.