Here’s my third and final check-in on the numbers behind the Primacy publishing project. They won’t be final, even on the hardcover, and they mercifully avoid returns season after the holidays (at which point this column will have ceased), which, believe me, won’t make things look any better.

These numbers are only a snapshot, intended to demonstrate what some of my efforts have yielded. It takes a lot to get traction with new fiction, more than a couple of months. I’ve informally been tracking some novels that major houses published concurrent with mine, and they appear to be doing comparable numbers, with few exceptions.

The trend for relatively unknown authors, it seems, is that the velocity of print book sales fades away over time, while e-book sales slowly build. There are reasons for this, which I won’t go into now.


Number of days the book has officially been on sale as of this writing: 74


Initial wholesale sales lay-down: 4,749

Total number of hardcovers shipped to date: 6,182

Returns to date: 853

Library sales: 530


Nook e-book sales so far reported: 17

Apple iBook sales: 5

Other e-book sales: 77

Amazon Kindle sales reported so far: 0 (You’re telling me they don’t have that data yet? C’mon! Maybe they really are the Evil Empire.)


Hardcover sales rank on Barnes & Noble (afternoon of 11/15/11): 415,048

Nook sales rank (afternoon of 11/15/11): 137,098


Best Amazon hardcover ranking so far: 34,273

Best Kindle sales ranking so far: 15,467


Print reviews: 4

Known blog mentions: 18

Radio show appearances: 16

New radio scheduled: 2


Odds that I’ll publish my next book exactly this way: 1 in 8

Odds that I’ll publish my next book sort of this way: 1 in 2

Odds that I took my own advice throughout this process: 1 in 3


Number of words I’ve written so far of my next book, PROXIMITY: 50,313


I’ll deal with lesson learned in my penultimate column, which will appear in another two weeks.




Last week: Publishing Primacy — Folio 34: Five Dimensions of Timing

Next week: Publishing Primacy — Folio 36: Perseverance is an Art

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Publishing Primacy posts every Wednesday by 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

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J.E. Fishman, a former Big Six book editor and former literary agent, is author of the thriller Primacy, which Publishers Weekly called "appealing" and Kirkus called "good, boisterous fun." His mystery novel, Cadaver Blues, was serialized in 2010 on TNB and you can still find it here if you dig deep enough. It's now available in ebook and paperback. His financial thriller, The Dark Pool, was published this year, and his new series of police thrillers, Bomb Squad NYC, will be published in February 2014. He blogs here and at the Huffington Post. Please visit and follow him at his very fancy and expensive official author website.

2 responses to “Publishing Primacy — Folio 35: Primacy Numbers (3)”

  1. Christopher says:

    Hi J.E., I had a question: do copies shipped mean copies sold? If so, I was surprised more copies weren’t sold through Amazon and in turn got a higher sales ranking.

    • J.E. Fishman says:

      These are books shipped to wholesalers or chains or directly to retailers, which would include Amazon. The sales ranking on Amazon is based on secret algorithms that include how many copies they’ve sold (which they haven’t yet reported to me) and other parameters. The print ranking is out of 8 million books, so on the bright side I’m in the top one percent.

      Have you bought the book yet? If not, you shouldn’t be surprised that it hasn’t ranked higher.

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