Friday, May 27, 2011

Paperback Sales Data (My "Officially" Published Works)

By Dave Armstrong (5-27-11)

[sales figures updated on 7 September 2011]

My "biblical evidence" methodology is a proven and effective way to help Catholics and also (especially) Protestants better understand and accept Catholic teachings. My books (shameless self-plug; sorry!) have a tried-and-proven track record of good sales. In terms of objective numbers and hard sales figures, the proof's in the pudding. I have four books and a pamphlet that can be considered "bestsellers" in the market (i.e., in the relatively small Catholic apologetics market; we're not talking romance novels or political or movie star biographies here!). Here are actual sales figures:

Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked (published by Our Sunday Visitor in July 2002): 22,695 copies: packages of 50 each (as of 12-31-10): individual pamphlet sales: 1,134,750: a million-seller! [Update: 23,788 and 1,189,400 as of 6-30-11]

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (self-published in October 2001 [1684 copies sold] and by Sophia Institute Press since May 2003): 20,051 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 20,400 as of 7-25-11]

The Catholic Verses (published in August 2004 by Sophia Institute Press): 17,133 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 17,377 as of 7-25-11]

The One-Minute Apologist (published in May 2007 by Sophia Institute Press): 10,047 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 10,238 as of 7-25-11]
Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (published on 15 August 2009 by Sophia Institute Press): 2,232 copies (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 2,463 as of 7-25-11]

The New Catholic Answer Bible (April 2005; co-author Dr. Paul Thigpen) is also consistently selling very well, as evidenced by continually high placements (often top 20, or at least top 50) in amazon lists for sales rank in the category of Catholic books. I don't have exact numbers for that because (unfortunately!) I don't get paid royalties for it (it was a flat-fee contract). The Amazon sales rank figure as of 2:08 PM EST 5-27-11 for this book is 29,702 (5-star rating with 34 customer reviews: 32 of those 5-star ratings).

Thus, the four books and one pamphlet package with known sales figures, add up to a total of 72,158 copies sold since October 2001 [74,266 as of 7-25-11]. The New Catholic Answer Bible and it's earlier version, The Catholic Answer Bible (that was my own work, without a co-author), possibly bring the total to 100,000, since they have sold very well (judging by amazon sales ranks), and have done so since September 2002, when the first version came out. Certainly, if we include also my 17 self-published paperbacks (Lulu) -- not to mention vigorous e-book sales also, and The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton (for which I don't have total sales figures), the grand total is over 100,000 titles sold.

Not only have my more popular books sold well in total numbers (for their market), but also consistently through the years, for many years. In February 2011 I made a calculation of average sales per month since the titles came out:

The One-Minute Apologist  236 / mo. average over 38 months.

The Catholic Verses  225 / mo. (72 months).

Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked  225 / mo. (101 months).

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism  201 / mo. (87 months for Sophia Institute Press: since May 2003) or 181 / mo. including the self-published period starting in October 2001 (106 months).

These figures may seem low, but it is a relative thing, based on the size of a given market. Catholic apologist Karl Keating noted in his e-letter of 21 November 2006:

There aren't many Catholic apostolates that manage to get by solely on the sale of materials. Come to think of it, I can't bring to mind any that do.

Catholic Answers earns income from magazine subscription fees, speaking honoraria, book and CD sales, advertising revenue, and so on, but all that covers less than half of our annual budget. The rest comes from donations. Without donations, our level of work would be much different from what it is. . . .

I remember, years ago, meeting with Fr. Joseph Fessio at Ignatius Press in San Francisco. I asked him how many copies of a book he would need to sell to turn a profit. He said he would need to sell as few as 3,000 copies, but not a few of the titles Ignatius published never reached even that level.

You might think, "Well, I could sell 3,000 copies of any decent book. Catholic publishers should be well in the black." I can assure you that it's not so simple. . . . 

The plain truth is that very few Catholic books sell into six figures. For that matter, few sell into five figures. In orthodox Catholic publishing, you have a hit if you sell 10,000 copies of a title. It certainly is a niche market. . . . 
Over the last year or so, most Catholic apostolates have noticed a softening in sales and donations, Catholic Answers included. Maybe it's the economy, but who really knows? We just know the softening is for real.

I am myself in this same boat. Book sales are generally much lower in the Catholic market than they were ten years ago, and donations have lessened due to the sluggish economy (the latter was the sole reason why I lost my staff position last December at the Coming Home Network as a forum moderator). My income consists of book royalties and donations. My work has been fruitful, by God's grace, for the purpose of helping aid many hundreds of folks to become Catholic or to become more strengthened and confident in their Catholic faith.

I have been a full-time apologist since December 2001, so it is coming up to ten years. As I have often noted, sometimes I take on additional unrelated part-time jobs to get by, but it is preferable to be able to devote myself totally to the specific work that God has called me to: Catholic apologetics and evangelism.

Your generous contribution helps make all this possible. I don't "beg and plead" and prefer to let my work speak for itself. Once in a while I will mention my situation, in order to allow readers an opportunity to support it if they wish to do so (especially those who have themselves been helped by my work). You can be part of it and play your part in the harvest of souls. I can't do it without you.

Many heartfelt thanks to all my readers and especially to those who have supported my work financially and (equally importantly) in prayer. I deeply appreciate all of you and can never thank you enough. It is my honor and privilege to serve you in this work that I dearly love. It's not just empty, obligatory phrases for me; I sincerely mean every word I say.

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