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How Many Books Sold Is Considered Successful (Everything About Book Sales)

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When it comes to a book being successful, the majority of people directly link success to book sales. While in theory, the more book sales you achieve, the more successful a book will be, this is not something you will want to solely focus on. 

The success of your book is relative. While looking at the number of sales is important, other aspects should be taken into consideration too, such as positive reviews received, and reader engagement. While sales are important, you want to ensure that your book is selling for the correct reasons.

In this article, I will be talking through how many books need to sell to be deemed as “successful”. I will also be discussing other factors that should be taken into consideration too, focusing specifically on reader engagement.

How Many Books Sold Is Considered Successful?

When looking at the amount of books an author needs to sell in order to be considered “successful”, there is not a specific number you should be aiming for. The amount of sales is relative to the book and the genre. 

If you are a self-published author, this is something you will want to keep in mind. Self-published books typically sell fewer copies in comparison to a book published by a traditional publishing house, due to the amount of influence publishers have in the book world. 

Best-Seller Lists

The majority of authors have heard of the New York Times Best-Seller list. If anything is going to solidify a book’s success, it is a place on this list. It is seen as a prestigious title to hold, and featuring on this list will further boost the sales of a book. 

When looking at best-seller lists, typically a book needs to sell around 5,000 copies to rank, and those featuring toward the top of the list will likely sell around 15,000 copies and above. Any book that receives over 25,000 sales in the week of publication has sold particularly well. 

However, the benchmarks for each list will vary, and are based on slightly different figures. Pre-sales are also taken into consideration, which is why they are an important part of the book promotion campaign.

While it is fantastic for a book to be featured on a best-seller’s list, this is not the most important thing to aim for. There are still other ways to measure the success of a book. 

It is important to note that when you are looking at the amount of books sold, this is all relevant. For example, in general a non-fiction book will sell fewer books in comparison to a fiction book, this is because fewer people will read them. 

When looking at a book genre that has a lot of new books published each week, such as YA, it is easier in some respects to gain more sales. Even so, this is all relative, when compared to a less popular book genre. The sales benchmark for more obscure genres tend to be lower because fewer people purchase books in this genre as a whole. 

The vast majority of authors will sell a few hundred copies in their first week of sales, especially if they are a self-published author. Taking this into consideration, your sole focus should not be on book sales alone.

Copies Sold Over Time

When looking at the success of a book, the amount of copies sold over a longer period of time is something that needs to be taken into consideration. If a book does not sell any additional copies after having a successful first week, this will affect its overall success. 

A lot of self-published authors will have a slow start when it comes to book sales, and may be more successful as the months progress. When you take into consideration that self-published authors do not have the same influence as books published with a publishing house, this is understandable. 

When it comes to overall book sales, ideally you will want a constant but steady flow of sales over a longer period. This helps to bring in a steady stream of money over time. 

Why The Amount Of Books Sold Does Not Always Link To Success

A lot of authors, especially those who have written a debut novel, can become disheartened if their book does not instantly become successful. This is especially true for self-published authors, because they do not receive the same backing as a book published through a publishing house. 

While book sales are a big part of a book being successful, they are not something you focus on solely. Success is relative, and you should have your own, realistic goals in mind that you want to achieve. 

Engaging With Readers

Building up an audience, and engaging with readers, is an important part of a book’s success. You want a reader to keep purchasing your books, and to support your work. The best way to do this is through engagement and interactions. 

Having loyal and dedicated readers will help your future books to sell, and it is rewarding for an author to get to know their audience. A great way to engage with your reader on a deeper level is through Author Community. This is a free, text based messaging service that allows your readers to contact you directly.

You are given your own unique number that can be added to your book. This allows readers to text the number to receive extra information and details about your book that they would not have had insight into otherwise.

From here, it allows you to encourage your readers to leave positive reviews of the book, which in turn boosts interest and sales. There is so much you can achieve through using Author Community, and it can completely change how you measure the success of your book. You can receive a demo of this service here.


To summarize, the amount of books an author sells is important, and can be linked to success. However, it is not something that should be an author’s sole focus. Engaging with readers on a personal level is also important, and using Author Community can help you to achieve this.