The Big Indie Author Survey Part 1

How many books do Indie Authors sell in a month? How do you compare? Do more books mean more sales? Find out now… sort of.

A big thank you, once again, for everyone who contributed to the big Indie Author Survey. There is a vast amount of information gathered and trying to pull it apart to give you useful insights is proving very tricky because of the number of different variables included. In this first blog post, I’m going to be focusing mainly on sales.

I’d really like to give you an insight into what people are selling because it’s a measure, rightly or wrongly, that most of us judge our success on. This isn’t the place for my opinion on this matter and I’m trying extremely hard to keep this an opinion free zone. (I will fail at this)

There’s a lot more to look at and it’s going to take some time but if there’s something you’d like me to look at please let me know in the comments and I will try to prioritise!

Let’s jump straight in-

How many books sold-

The total number of books sold from the responses received –


That’s a huge number from just 160 authors, and that doesn’t include any free books at all. So how does that break down?

First, let’s talk about outliers. There were two extremely successful authors who on their own made more sales than everyone else put together. I’ll be doing a bit more about outliers later but if you sold over 500 books, I have removed you from some data because you are what I’m going to term the IncrediAuthor, because I love a portmanteau and because you are breaking some incredible barriers and deserve a special category. * I will make it clear when this is done

For everyone else.

The average sale, per title, was 12.3 books. Found by dividing the total titles by the total sales (including our newly named IncrediAuthors).

Let’s break that down a little more, because we still have a lot of big fish in there.

Sales per title –

This is PER TITLE – and this is an important distinction because many authors have multiple titles. There were 916 titles for sale from our pool of 164 authors in total.

Sales% of titles
1 to 544.5
6 to 1011.0
10 to 207.3

Which means only 15% of titles sold more than 20 copies – THIS INCLUDES THE IncrediAuthors!

So, you might be wondering how many of our respondents had more than 1 title.

Average titles per author- (or ‘how many different books are you selling?’)

The average is 5.69*

Titles on sale%

Which brings us to the big question, the average sales per author.

On average 30 books were sold per author in April. *(Removing IncrediAuthors)


Does having more titles mean more sales? Well, here’s a magic table.

TitlesAverage sales
6 -1020.9
More than 1024.6

What does it mean? Not a lot unfortunately, maybe 4 is a magic number (it isn’t, there weren’t that many authors with 4 books!)

This might seem like information overload so here’s some take aways.

  • The average number of sales for a title, regardless of the number of books an author has available was 12.3 books.
  • The vast majority of books sold less than 5 copies.
  • The number of books an author has on sale might not have as big an influence on individual book sales as is often suggested.
  • If you sold more than 20 copies of a title you are in the top 15% of respondents.

Next time – advertising…