For the past year, I’ve kept an old article from Publisher’s Weekly taped to my desk. By Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, it provides some statistics that are hard to come by in other places. While the numbers aren’t up to date, they’ve provided me with an important reality check:
“In 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies. Those blockbusters are a minute anomaly: only 10 books sold more than million copies last year, and fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000.”
Given the massive rise of self-publishing and consolidation of the publishing industry, I’m fairly certain there are far more than 1.2 million books published in the English-language in 2017-8. When I searched for publishers for my book, I had several express interest, but all of them told me the same thing: the market is too small for your book. Not enough people will want to read it. So I gave myself a very conservative goal to sell 500 copies in a year. This put me right about average, which I thought was pretty ambitious, but not too much of an overreach. After all, literally millions of women lose their child to stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death. Many of these women either get pregnant or hope to get pregnant again! So 500 copies was an attainable goal.
In the end, you’ve blown my expectations to smithereens! As of today, June 6, with 18 more days to make sales before our anniversary, I’ve sold 915 copies. I don’t think I’ll crack 1000 in those next few days, but I never thought I’d get this close. This means that 90% of all books published sold fewer copies than Joy! Wow!
I couldn’t have done any of this without you. My friends, family and acquaintances were glad to spread the word far and wide, and many bought copies even though their baby-making days were long behind them. When I was too shy to approach some influential people to tell them about the book, many of you pressed a copy into their hands. And of course, nothing means more to me than hearing the reviews of the mothers who’ve told me this book made a difference for them. A recent review posted to Facebook reads:
“I found this book extraordinarily helpful.
In 2013 my first son was stillborn at 26 weeks. My second child was miscarried. In 2015 I was involved in an automobile accident. I discovered that I was pregnant with our third child at the same time my fractured sternum was discovered.
That pregnancy was terrifying for me. I spent the majority of it, as well as my post partum period, hospitalized due to high risk complications in addition to my healing sternum during advancing pregnancy, when everything moves upward.
This book was an enormous comfort to me during this time when I withdrew from every single person except for my spouse and dealt with the emotions and thoughts and issues related to that pregnancy.
Our Rainbow was born the day after Father’s Day in 2016.
Our following pregnancy was miscarried also in 2017.
Every single thing I went through was worth it when I saw my son. Every single thing. I can’t thank you enough for this book, which was glued to my hands during my pregnancy and when I couldn’t explain what I was going through adequately to my team of doctors they read it too.
I keep this for all future pregnancies and it is an enormous help during a very frightening time. I’m grateful for a resource that “gets it” when it comes to this journey.
Thank you a million times over!”
I never thought my little words would have such an impact. Thank you everyone who helped make it possible.