Filmmaking / Directing : Finding sales numbers for a book by Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Finding sales numbers for a book

HI all, I'm considering optioning a book but I want to learn more about its sales. Although I can find information about the author and her other books, her awards, etc., on line, I can't find anything about the sales of this particular book (or her other books). Any suggestions? (I do know that publishers have departments which deal with movie rights but before I approach them, I'm trying to learn as much in detail as I can.) TIA Doug Mayfield

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Jeff - I had not thought of that. Thank you.

Heather Hale

Some numbers can be found on Amazon. Do a little digging. Look in the reviews.

Dougie Brimson

Ask the author! Most will be honest about sales given that if an option is taken on that book, at some point the truth will inevitably out!

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Thanks to all who commented. Heather - In the context of my being a bit 'web challenged' or at least 'web self taught', I took a look at what's available regarding the book on Amazon and did not see numbers on sales other than it was not an Amazon 'Best Seller'. Amazon lists it as a 'children's book'. My own read is that it's for say from 8-9 years onward up to and including adults. Any other thoughts on searching Amazon?

Rachael Saltzman

Ask the publisher.

Heather Hale

Hey Douglas,

(Sorry to be so late in responding - I didn't know you had asked me a question in the comments section! Next time just shoot me a PM!)

As several other people have mentioned: contact the publisher and/or author directly. If you're looking to option the book, it's reasonable to ask for this kind of proprietary info to be disclosed. Of course, they may not be willing to share it and/or may not actually have all the info available - but you can certainly ask.

While not sales figures (and does not include any other retailers, the record for each book on (right above the reviews) includes information on each book's ranking in relevant sales categories compared to other books offered by Amazon. You could also try this Amazon print or ebook Sales estimator calculator:

Check the copyright page (usually the reverse of the title page) of the most recent edition of the book to see if you can guestimate how many printings there have been. This doesn't provide real figures but you might be able to ballpark the size of each printing for a title that has gone back to press several times. (i.e.: was it a trade book in its 3rd printing with 5K runs each? Or...???) Or call the publisher and ask how many books are typically printed in each run of a children's book. That might tell you. If it's in its 1st run, though, who knows? Amazon and others do show how many are in stock (i.e.: unsold) but... that number can be manipulated for marketing purposes and there are too many sources to amalgamate accurately.

My guess is, you wouldn't be asking if you were contemplating optioning a best seller - or even another title or manuscript from a best selling or famous author, but ...

PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY includes estimates of total sales in annual bestsellers lists, which are usually printed in March for the previous year. BOWKER ANNUAL: LIBRARY AND BOOK TRADE ALMANAC also includes this data.

Individual news stories about the book might give such figures (especially if it is an unexpected success).

For famous or best selling authors, sometimes author biographies or bibliographies of works might show this info.

FIRST PRINTINGS OF AMERICAN AUTHORS (Wilson Quarto PS88 .F57x 1977), may contain this information - just for the first edition (which might not help - but would establish some baseline).

For books from 2001 to present, approximate sales data may have been gathered by Nielsen Book Scan, a subscription service marketed mostly to publishers and bookstore chains. If you have a friend in the industry, you might be able to get them to look it up for you. Some universities have access, so a professor or student (at a school that subscribes) might be able to sign on and check for you.

If it's pubic domain, you wouldn't be optioning it, so...

But: GOOD LUCK! Or rather... where are you at?!

Regina Lee

I believe BookScan is the most accurate source but I'm not certain.

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