Small Press, Big Data — your questions

A follow-up to this recent post, which examined the performance of thirty-one small press publications, looking at units sold vs. profit for each. Below, I answer some questions that have arisen since the original article.

Can I ask where the *other* genres, besides single-author poetry collections, appeared on your graph?

Good point — I’m so obsessed with poetry I forgot to comment on the rest! Here’s an expanded version of the chart, with novels in yellow, short story collections in orange, and poetry anthologies (i.e. not single-author) in dark green:

What were the values on the vertical axis?

I don’t want to get into specifics — but I will say, the chart values can be thought of as percentage changes (that’s the only way I could compare the two). Looking at the chart above, you can safely assume that the lowest horizontal line represents absolute disaster (no sales and no income), and two lines above that is a level equivalent to survival … in doing so, you can see how I survived that period.

What does the opposite graph look like, with profit values in order?

It looks like this:

“I printed exactly the right number of copies, but struggled to make cash — how did I manage that?!”

I’ve looked into that, and it turns out in those cases, customers went for the Kindle edition rather than the paperback. The result was a lot of paperbacks sitting around unsold at the time I captured this data. I’d love an answer to this question: if the ebook wasn’t available, would those customers have bought the paperback instead…?

Selling books at a launch event had no effect — why?

After some thought, I reckon:

  • If there was a launch without the publisher (i.e. in a bookshop), the lost profits per unit were roughly equivalent to what the publisher would have spent travelling to the venue and/or hiring the space.

Founder @valleypress. Have mostly written here about small press publishing, but am starting to branch out. Stay with me, people!

Founder @valleypress. Have mostly written here about small press publishing, but am starting to branch out. Stay with me, people!