Self Publishing on Kindle – How Many eBooks Do We Need To Sell To Be Successful?

I chat a lot about self publishing. Mostly it’s to writers who are as yet unpublished, who want to know what’s involved in the self publishing business through my imprint Write Good Books.

At one time these were all writers who simply wanted to get into print. They all had this burning desire to see their work in print and for sale in high street book shops…this was ‘success’….they had made it.

All of them had some kind of idea how many books they were willing to have in their possession. It ranged from as few as 10 books to 2,000. It was my job to advise them what was practical, and to give them all the facts and figures as best I could.

My advice was usually taken, sometimes not, but in the end most of those writers managed sufficient sales to at least break even. I saw that as one of the most important aspects of my job – make sure the writer gets a fair deal and has a chance of getting their money back. If I thought a book would be lucky to generate any sales at all outside the writer’s own family or social group I would try to persuade them to keep the number of books to a minimum.  This still happens of course.

But with the arrival of self publishing online, particularly for the Kindle, we all know things have changed.

I was speaking to a group of writers the other day about publishing on the Kindle and the group as a whole had one burning question “How many eBooks do we need to sell to be successful?

Good question. Unfortunately it’s one without an answer. Like the ‘How long is a piece of string’ conundrum.

For some writers I work with just seeing the book up on Amazon is success. It really is. They get quite emotional about it. Sales don’t come into it. They’ve done it. They have completed a manuscript to their own standards and can now see it online. Their book is available around the world. They are quite staggered at the thought of it.

Then there are other writers who go through the familiar routine of selling a handful to family and friends, generating interest on WordPress or Facebook and making another batch of sales and then…..well, not much happens and it’s a case of start thinking ‘long term’ sales. Total sales, maybe 50 books. Successful? My guess would be 50/50. I know some who are thrilled to bits, but I know others who are still not happy. It’s the glass half full/half empty syndrome.

I also know writers who have sussed out the eBook market and are WordPress, Facebook savvy and have made quite significant sales online but they are probably the least happy of them all. Tell them they are ‘successful’ and I doubt they will beieve you. But they are.

In the end it’s all relative. Just one single book sale can mean everything to a writer starting out…it’s an incredible feeling. It’s success. I see it as being my job to give that writer a start, to give him/her the opportunity to make their mark, and to encourage them to move on to another book, to keep going, to keep writing……and never to take any sales for granted, and be grateful for every book sale. Every single one.

To be honest, I think we’re all more successful than we realise.

If anyone ever needs any advise about eBook publishing please get in touch.



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About writegoodbooks

I help new writers become published authors through self-publishing. I also offer writers the chance to have their work converted into Kindle eBooks and publish them on the Amazon Kindle store.

9 responses to “Self Publishing on Kindle – How Many eBooks Do We Need To Sell To Be Successful?”

  1. MishaBurnett says :

    I’ll be honest, my long term goal is to able to quit my day job and make a living with my book sales. For me, that would be a net income of 2,000 ($US) a month. That doesn’t mean that I consider myself a failure since I’m not there yet, it just means that is what I am working towards. I may never get there, but I don’t intend to stop trying.

  2. Creative Mysteries says :

    Great post! I’ve wondered how I would feel once I self-published my first book. Now I realize I’ll be at least content with a few sales, at least starting out. I think success is what you make it. The fact that I’d finally be a published author is success in itself 🙂

    • writegoodbooks says :

      I agree totally…feel good about what you’re doing. No one can take that away from you.

      Twenty years ago self publishing on the scale we’re all now doing it would have been thought impossible…..we should all remember that and realise how lucky we are.

      It also pays to think ‘long term’ about your writing…..everything we create and publish online today is going to be around and available for many years to come. How incredible is that?

  3. Creative Mysteries says :

    Very incredible! I do like the fact that self-publishing is up and rising. It used to be almost unheard of. Now it’s a reasonable publishing choice 🙂

  4. Hamish Downie says :

    This advice could just as easily apply to filmmakers. Back in the day you needed to get a short film into a festival to have any chance of someone actually watching it. Now we have youtube and vimedo and the whole process has been democratised. Some of the films I’ve made have only found a limited audience, whereas others have found a larger audience. That doesn’t mean that I’m not proud of all of them, because each one has led to the other.

  5. GainFromLoss says :

    I had this feeling when I self-produced my first CD of Schubert songs. I may have sold 250 copies (including Kickstarter donors). It was like having a child. It was definitely a labor of love, though it wasn’t a huge money maker, per se. I did receive a great review in a major music publication and the day the official copyright notice showed up in the mail was pretty cool. My recording is in the Library of Congress!

    Now I am working on my first children’s book to publish on Kindle. Funny, as I am doing the illustrations and putting the book together, I am getting the same sort of feeling from the publishing process as I did from the recording process. I imagine, whether I sell one (to my mom) or 10,000 copies, the act of actually seeing the project through to the completion really is a thrill.

    • writegoodbooks says :

      Yes it’s a fantastic feeling seeing your book out there and then making a sale….there’s nothing quite like it…….I’m sure you’ll do well, you seem to be very clued up.

      Let me know when your book is out….I’ll certainly have a look…….and thanks a million for taking the time to comment

  6. Paul Elliott says :

    Hi Steve,

    Good article. You are so right in pointing out that any sale is an achievement. My ebook has been on sale for just over a month now and initially it seemed just enough to have it on Amazon. I have been overwhelmed by the response to my book without any marketing. I have just sold my 200th copy and I feel giddy from such numbers. I would really appreciate any cost effective marketing ideas that you may have for aspiring writers. I’m sure that we all secretly hold the dream of doing this for a living, and any advice on promoting ebooks from a first time author would be greatly appreciated. My book by the way is called ‘Travels of an Ordinary Man Australia’ and I have it priced at 99c.


    Paul Elliott

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