Becoming an author is not for the faint of heart. Writing a riveting plot full of compelling twists and turns, penning interesting characters that have depth and resonate with readers while holding a reader’s attention for hundreds or more pages is a challenge for even the most seasoned writer. Creating book content, however, is only one part of producing a self-published book. Authors who go this route also have to think about formatting the text correctly for the printing company, designing an appealing cover, and developing a marketing and sales plan to get books into a reader’s hands.
Self-published authors can find all kinds of assistance with these non-writing tasks, like hiring a copyeditor to help polish the text or a design professional to make the cover art catch the eye of potential readers. But the author themselves ultimately must decide on the number of books to be ordered from the printer as well before becoming a published author with books in hand, ready to sell. So how does an author determine the book ordering quantity dilemma? Let’s take a look at the process to go through to order books when you are self-publishing your work.
Factors to Consider When Authors Order Books
The reality is that there is no magic number of books to order for any writer, whether they are self-publishing their very first work or they are a seasoned author. But authors should think about a variety of factors before pulling the trigger on a printing order. For the first-time author or for newer writers, components like how the marketing will be handled, the genre of the book, the author’s goal for publication as well as budget should all play a part in deciding how many books to order when self-publishing.
Books that are developed and printed through one of the Big Five publishers or even some of the indie houses may come with a marketing and sales plan. But self-published authors are in charge of creating and following through with a marketing, sales, and social media awareness plan for their book. Marketing plans are closely tied to budget (which we will discuss in a minute), but marketing doesn’t have to cost money to be effective. Just like any other kind of promotional strategy, getting the word out for a book is based on utilizing a variety of ways to reach potential readers. With a comprehensive plan in place and potentially a budget to match its needs, book ordering volume might be increased due to anticipated sales that result from the marketing blitz. Some of the ways authors can up their marketing are
- Using social media activity across multiple platforms.
- Advertising pre-sales on social media.
- Creating a strong email marketing campaign to stir up interest and offer books for pre-sale.
- Developing an author website to give readers insight into the book as well as a link to buy books.
- Broadcasting book signing dates and locations on social media.
Just like in any business, creating a product that a lot of people will want is one of the keys to determining the production, and books are no different than other products. Authors may love their work and personally know others that enjoy their writing. But if potential readers just don’t pick up that particular genre or type of book, then an author should take that into consideration. Some genres like romance, self-help, crime, and mystery books are all strong sellers. So authors who write books in these genres that also plan on utilizing a strong marketing plan may choose to print 500 or more books. Authors with books in popular genres that will have more modest marketing and sales plans might want to order 200 or more books for printing. Other genres like horror or memoirs don’t sell as well and their fan bases are typically smaller. Pre-sales can provide authors with a good projection of how potential book sales might go. Even with a strong marketing plan, books in these genres may choose to print smaller runs. If little to no marketing is planned, authors might want to only print 25-50 books in less popular genres.
Determining how many books to order can be challenging but so many factors are in the control of the authors themselves. And the author’s personal goals for the book, future books, and the author themselves are one of the factors that highly influence the number of books ordered for printing. A writer should think about the big picture of the book they are publishing and how it fits into their greater plan as an author.
Is this book planned to be one of a series or a trilogy? If the answer is yes, then authors may want to consider a larger printing number because some readers may join the series or trilogy on book two or beyond but then seek out the first book later on. Having extra books beyond a smaller first printing might save time and money later as well as provide new readers access to all of the series or trilogy books.
Does an author want to make writing a full-time career? If so, a larger printing number makes more sense. If the author is in this for the long haul, having extra books down the line will align with a strong marketing strategy and a goal to have a selection of publications forthcoming.
Is this book anticipated to be the only publication for this author? For some, writing a book is a life goal or a “bucket list” item and the author has no intention of making writing a career or turning out another publication. For authors only wanting to publish one book, a smaller printing run is likely the best option since the goal was simply to publish a book rather than seek long-standing success or fame as a result of the book-writing experience.
Just like any other personally-funded activity, an author’s budget plays a big part in deciding how many books the author wants to print. Of course, self-publishing a book comes with a cost upfront, but one of the amazing benefits of going this route is that authors can ultimately keep a much larger share of book royalties as the books sell. But accounting for the whole budget doesn’t only include the cost of the printing. It can also include such production costs as paying for a professional editor to review your book before printing as well as an expert designer to craft a beautiful cover to attract the attention of potential readers. While reprinting a book can be an exciting prospect when sales are consistent and more books can be sold, the initial budget outlay can be scary when no books have been sold. Self-publishing authors on a budget may want to lean heavily into pre-marketing and pre-selling their books before they order books for printing. This strategy may help authors to gauge interest in their book and match that with how much they have budgeted for printing or any other book-related costs.
Once a writer has penned the final word in their book, plenty of work still remains to be done before it turns into a physical book ready for the reading public to discover. Authors who self-publish will want to pick a reliable printing company to work with like Dazzle Printing to make sure a beautiful book will be the end result of all of their hard work. Deciding how many books to print is one of the final decisions an author must make while preparing to publish their work. Ideally, there would be a magic formula that shows authors exactly how many books to order. But as we all know, no such formula exists. Book sales rely on a wide variety of factors that all work together at the same time but in different ways for every single book. But authors can make smart decisions about choosing how many books to order by thinking about their own goals, budget, marketing and sales plans for the book as well as their book’s genre and its potential readership.
Authors write books for a lot of different reasons but the end goal is usually the same regardless of genre: to get the books into the hands of readers. Ordering books after pre-sales can help anticipate future successes for authors and working with an established printing company that will produce a beautiful physical copy of your book are two steps that every author can take to make sure they will have enough books on hand for readers to enjoy for years to come. We print books for was few as 25 copies. If you’d like a price for your book, check out our online pricing calculators.