Do Awards = Sales?

How much impact on sales volume does being an award winner (such as a the Whitney awards) make?

Is there a place to find out how many books a certain author sells? Or publisher?

The answer to the first question is "I don't know" because the answer to the second question is "No."

Most publishers do not give good information on their sales. They might tell you that a particular book has sold over X number of copies, but that's about it. Or they might claim a book is a best-seller, which could mean that it's hit an unspecified sales level or that it's simply sold more copies than the other books they publish. No one knows.

An author might be willing to give specifics on sales if they're having a one-on-one conversation with you, but there's no way to check the accuracy of those numbers. Also, their numbers will run anywhere from three months to a full year behind, depending on how their publisher pays royalties.

As far as awards boosting sales, in general, an award will have a positive influence on sales. All things being equal, a customer tends to believe that if a book got an award, it must be good. Obviously, a Newbery is going to really boost sales. A Whitney, not as much, due to market size.

Any Whitney winners want to comment on how they feel the award impacted their book sales?


Stephanie Black said...

As far as I can tell, winning a Whitney doesn't make a big difference to sales numbers. Unfortunately :) Maybe other Whitney winners have had a different experience.

It's hard to know exactly how much effect it has, since it's not as though you have two sets of data to compare--this is how well this book sold with a Whitney; this is how well it would have sold without it. And comparing it to former books won't always work--conditions (such as economic conditions) can change with the release of each book, impacting sales.

I predict that as the Whitneys become more and more well known that they'll have a greater impact on sales.

Charlie Moore said...

Any kind of positive reinforcement can't hurt. I feel a good trusted review probably holds more weight in promoting a book than winning an award. Only my opinion.


Jon Spell said...

Well, Stephanie, I guess you don't have a lot of experience judging Whitneys vs non-Whitneys, do you? =)

I told Rob they should make stickers to put on the books after they win, might influence a consumer.

Jordan said...

+1 on stickers! (I was just thinking that.) The Whitneys need more publicity before they could really impact sales.

I think the only way we'd be able to tell anyway is if the publishers could document an increase immediately after the Whitneys announcement.

(My thinking here is that a book will sell better when it first comes out than months later when it suddenly gets an award, since many people who might have been influenced by the award would've already bought the book in the interim.)

Stephanie Black said...

:) Jon, you're awesome.

They do provide Whitney Award winner/finalist images for us to use on our blogs, etc. and to use to make stickers if we so desire. But it's not a Whitney-provided thing (I don't think they have the funding to provide them). It's up to the winners to order the stickers and get them on the books. I wonder if publishers would be willing to put the stickers on the books before shipping them? Or send them to bookstores to be placed on current stock? I should ask.

Lyle Mortimer said...

No.... winning the Whitney award does not make any difference to sales. And yes..... there are databases available. They aren't perfect in the LDS market but they do give enough information to answer the first question.

Anonymous said...

as manager of an LDS bookstore, I found it much easier to sell people on books that they were unfamiliar with that I thought they would like, say, In The Company of Angels, by saying it "Won the Whitney"- I usually had to explain what a Whitney was, also.