Before I finished writing The Ethics of Anarcho-Capitalism, I wondered how many copies I should expect to sell. I didn’t find much data to help me level-set, so I thought it might be useful to others if I published my own data. The upshot is that I sold about 1,000 copies in the first year, but a large percentage of that can be attributed to a single podcast appearance.
I released the book on March 2nd, 2020 in two formats: ebook and paperback. I only sold 2 copies in the first month, and I imagine that both were to friends or family who saw my email announcement. I released a hardcover version in April and an audio book version in May. Then in June sales peaked at 230 copies sold. That spike was thanks to Tom Woods, who invited me to be a guest on his podcast.
Another piece of information that was hard to find was how much incremental sales you should expect by releasing different formats. For example, is it worth the cost and effort of creating an audio book?
For me, the audio book turned out to be 30% of sales and has consistently been the second best selling format. I imagine most of those listeners would not have purchased a paper copy, so you could consider those incremental. However, I would think that many of the hardcover purchasers would have picked up a paperback if that was the only option.
Sales by format has been fairly consistent month over month, so the above pie chart is probably representative of the market for libertarian non-fiction.
For those who want the details, below is the raw data. You may not have noticed in the above charts, but KDP recently added a hardcover format. I’ve only sold two so far, but I like the quality of their hardcover books more than IngramSpark. The publishing process with KDP was also much easier.