Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Werthead

The SFF All-Time Sales List

Recommended Posts

That's pretty solid, though I suspect surprising to some people. A lot of the authors discussed a lot online and on SFF forums have relatively low sales, and vice versa.

What would you consider a decent sales figure for a SFF book?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What would you consider a decent sales figure for a SFF book?

These days you can get onto the bestseller lists by shifting a couple of thousand copies in the first week, depending on the time of year. This is why 'bestseller!' being listed on the cover is completely meaningless. Some authors who are NYT or ST bestsellers are actually earning less than the minimum wage. IIRC, there was an urban fantasy author about five years ago whose books would hit the 30s on the NYT list who was living on food stamps, as the return from her books was pretty low.

10,000-15,000 copies in the first year (which is what Scott Lynch had) would be regarded as a modest success. At that rate you are paying back the initial investment in the author, breaking even and maybe heading towards earning out the advance so the author can start making his 15% per copy sold. This is why Steven Erikson apparently selling 'only' 1 million copies of 11 novels (and a novella collection) is still pretty good for the publisher, even if compares poorly to Martin/Goodkind/Jordan/Pratchett. You might even say that Erikson selling that amount despite his reputation for being a 'difficult read' (by normal fantasy standards) is even more impressive.

On that basis, Mark Lawrence selling 250,000 copies of his first two novels alone in just two years probably has his publishers tap-dancing around their desks :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's pretty solid, though I suspect surprising to some people. A lot of the authors discussed a lot online and on SFF forums have relatively low sales, and vice versa.

Yeah, it seems that Karen Miller outsells Lynch:

RECORD-BREAKING DEBUT. One of the bestselling debuts of 2007, The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage hit numbers 2 and 4, respectively, on the Bookscan Mass Market Fantasy Bestseller List. The Innocent Mage has reprinted 12 times and has sold over 150,000 copies.

http://edelweiss.abo...?sku=0316201278

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, it seems that Karen Miller outsells Lynch:

http://edelweiss.abo...?sku=0316201278

And Gail Z. Martin as well, though I haven't found hard figures for her yet. There's a figure of 100,000, but that doesn't seem reliable given her apparent level of success.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These days you can get onto the bestseller lists by shifting a couple of thousand copies in the first week, depending on the time of year. This is why 'bestseller!' being listed on the cover is completely meaningless. Some authors who are NYT or ST bestsellers are actually earning less than the minimum wage. IIRC, there was an urban fantasy author about five years ago whose books would hit the 30s on the NYT list who was living on food stamps, as the return from her books was pretty low.

10,000-15,000 copies in the first year (which is what Scott Lynch had) would be regarded as a modest success. At that rate you are paying back the initial investment in the author, breaking even and maybe heading towards earning out the advance so the author can start making his 15% per copy sold. This is why Steven Erikson apparently selling 'only' 1 million copies of 11 novels (and a novella collection) is still pretty good for the publisher, even if compares poorly to Martin/Goodkind/Jordan/Pratchett. You might even say that Erikson selling that amount despite his reputation for being a 'difficult read' (by normal fantasy standards) is even more impressive.

On that basis, Mark Lawrence selling 250,000 copies of his first two novels alone in just two years probably has his publishers tap-dancing around their desks :)

I've always had the impression that successful authors sell really well in the first few months of publication, before sales fall away. Yet, I have the impression that several of the authors here towards the bottom of the list have seen sales gradually increase over time, as their reputation builds (As an aside, I'm really grateful to this forum for introducing me to several new authors).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also should probably include Max Brooks. Here's a source from 2011 that puts his sales of Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z at 2.4 million. It is probably double that since the movie came out, but that's still an impressive tally.

Not to be pushy, but was there a reason you didn't add Brooks? That source looks sufficiently legit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Added Heinlein, Le Guin and Lukyanenko. As for Brooks, I forgot :) Getting round to it now and then I'll probably stop updating for the day. Keep more info rolling in, as I'll get on it tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to this, Handmaid's Tale has sold over 2 million copies, and Oryx and Crake + Year of the Flood combined for 1 million. So that would put Atwood at 3 million even discounting her sales of non-SFF works (which are probably considerable).

According to BarnesandNoble.com, she has sold at least 3 million copies in the US alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Daniel Abraham has not sold enough to score high on that list, he has noted on this board that he has sold enough to keep him from working at a tech support desk. That's a big enough goal for most writers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love you, Wert.

I think this list may shock the hell out of some people here. Sometimes I get the feeling a few people forget that this isn't the be all end all of SFF fandom.

Odds are there are paranormal romance authors that would en up high on the list as well if we'd think about looking them up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×