poetry book sales survey: results

I’ve closed the informal, unscientific survey on poetry book sales after running it for a couple of days. I was pleased to get a total of 74 responses to its three questions, which were:
 
1. How big was the initial print run for your book or chapbook? (possible range presented was 50 to 2,000 copies. In hindsight: should have included a ‘print-on-demand’ option, and possibly a ‘more than 2,000′ option.)
 
2. How many print copies of your book or chapbook were sold? (range same as above, also included a ‘don’t know’ option)
 
3. Was your book or chapbook published in any other formats? (options were PDF download, website, e-book, audio or ‘no, only print’)
 
Click on graphics below to see larger versions.

Size of print run: a topic of interest to me since writing this post way back when. The numbers from the survey pretty much confirm the range discussed in that post and exclude the multi-thousand runs of real best-seller poets. According to this survey, nearly 80% of initial runs are less than 500 copies; close to 50% are less than 200 copies; and 35% are less than 100 copies. Our world is indeed a small one…
 
print run survey results
 
Number of copies sold: 74% of respondents reported selling less than 500 copies of their book; about 50% reported sales of less than 200 copies; and 27% less than 100 copies. These numbers are skewed, however, by the ‘don’t know’ category, which represented 15% of responses. In reality, each is probably a few percentage points higher.
 
copies sold survey results
 
Publication formats: This was the real surprise, although perhaps it should not have been. Almost 90% of respondents said their book had been published in print only. Five respondents (7%) reported PDF downloads as well; four respondents report e-book publication too; while two said their poems were published on a website, and one said it had also been published as audio.

I’ve gone on at length about the advantages of multi-format publishing in previous posts, and will do so again, now that this survey is done. Watch this space…
 
publishing format survey results

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8 thoughts on “poetry book sales survey: results

  1. Thanks, Nick — very interesting. It makes me wonder if this homebrew industry keeps statistics somewhere, and what they might be.

  2. Pingback: three new nanopress poetry publishing teams | Very Like A Whale

  3. Pingback: online poet demographics – results of a completely unscientific & amateur survey | Very Like A Whale

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