April 19, 2017 4:17 pm at 4:17 pm #1255420
How many copies does a sefer have to sell to be a “best seller”? How many many to make a profit? Anyone have tips on making it as an author?April 19, 2017 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm #1257788
saujosai: Spoiler alert! BEST SELLERS are chosen before they go on sale!
At least that’s how it is according to secular books. Check out “The New York Times Best Seller list” on Wiki – It’s crazy right?April 19, 2017 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm #1257789
Not all… but there is a web of deception, so the best sellers list is not necessarily accurate or fair.April 20, 2017 12:20 am at 12:20 am #1257910
Country Yossi makes these determinations.April 20, 2017 6:59 am at 6:59 am #1257937
How is he doing by the way? Any new publications?April 20, 2017 7:02 am at 7:02 am #1257948
This is all rather complicated. Are you talking about the Jewish book world or secular world?
Over the last several years, a drastic change has taken place in the Jewish book/sefarim world. Books do not sell like they used to, people do not read like they used to (for example, Parsha books used to sell well. Now everyone is happy with the Parsha column in the Jewish weekly magazines, circulars given out in shul, on-line Parsha blurbs). there is no money to be made in the publishing industry. Now the only way to get a book published- unless you are already a famous author- is to self-publish. There are various companies that will do this service for you. They charge the author around $8000-10,000, more if it is a large book (this is the only way to make money in the publishing industry). After the bookstore and distributor take their shares, the author is left with around 30% of list price. That means he is making around $5 a book (depending on price of course). He has to sell 2000 books to just break even- meaning 2 printings get sold out. Very unlikely. If a book sells out the first printing, it is considered good. So the only way to make it affordable is to get sponsors and raise money that way. You can also do avoid the publishing company and hire your own editor, typesetter, cover artist, etc, go directly to the printer, and probably get it done cheaper. The problem with that is it will be very hard to get a distributor as a lone unknown author. So that means you have to approach bookstores yourself and convince them to sell the book. Probably will be far less efficient that a known distributor who has access to bookstores all over the US and Europe, Israel so you will end up selling far less. Then there are advertising costs if you want anyone to know about your book.
You can try the Amazon publish on demand route, but again, unlikely to sell that many that way, unless you heavily invest in advertising, which will raise your overall costs.
So there really is no “making it as an author” in the frum publishing world. Think of it as an expensive hobby and a way to be marbitz Torah is it is a book on Torah.April 20, 2017 7:02 am at 7:02 am #1257960
Best selling sefarim are usually in the public domain, since their author’s are long dead. In some ways the market resembles that of non-Jewish publishing in the first centuries of printing. To be a “best selling” author of sefarim, become a leading scholar, have many talmidim, and there is still probably enough time before the end of the world for our sefer to become a best seller.April 20, 2017 9:49 am at 9:49 am #1258137
Thanks WinnieThePooh for your detailed response. I guess I need to look for a different business idea.April 21, 2017 2:21 am at 2:21 am #1258590
Your welcome. Better to learn the sad truth now than to put years and your heart and soul into a sefer only to find out that it needs a miracle (or a yerusha from an unknown relative) to get it published.
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