Let's Talk Actual Numbers

In your last post you said that in the LDS market, “the total number of copies you can sell are limited” as compared to a national market. What numbers are we talking about here? How many actual books could I realistically expect to sell in the LDS Market?

Uhmm, that depends on how well your book is written, the timeliness of the topic, the brilliance of your marketing plan, and how pretty the cover is.

A few years ago I was at a convention where several book and movie people were holding a panel discussion and that very question was raised. The consensus of the panel was that although our Church membership is much larger, the LDS buying public is really only about 3 million, with 1.5 million in the U.S. They estimated that the average product would capture between 1 and 10% of the U.S. market, so 15,000 to 150,000 units.

If I could guarantee that I’d hit that 1% mark every time, I’d be in seventh heaven. That would mean I could do a print run of 10,000 and cut my per book cost way down. And it would mean that every title I brought out would not only break even, but it would also make a little profit. Anything over that would be gravy.

That’s a great goal to shoot for, but in my experience many LDS titles don’t even sell through a first printing of 2,500 copies—or they take so long to sell through that the profit is eaten up in other expenses.

Then again, others are still picking up speed when they hit that 150,000 mark.

So, practically speaking, I’d say you want to plan your P&L based on selling 2,500 units. Plan your marketing strategy on 10,000. And plan your hustle for 150,000+.

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