Unless you are independently wealthy, there comes a time in a writer’s career when you have to work the numbers to reach your goals. Too often authors rely on a relatively small group of followers on social media or personal friends and family to buy enough quantity to sustain a career in writing. But when we look at the numbers, we discover that selling our books is in itself a numbers game—the more people that are exposed to our writing, the more chances we have for selling it.


  1. First, determine how much money you want to earn in a year’s time. To keep things simple, I’ll use $12,000 for this example. That equates to $1,000 per month.
  2. Second, determine the average amount of royalty you earn per book. Again, to keep it simple, I’ll use the figure $1.00.
  3. Taking the annual amount and dividing by the royalties per book (don’t worry – a spreadsheet is attached below that will provide all the calculations for you; it requires Microsoft Excel), that means you must sell 12,000 books per year or an average of 1,000 books per month.


In professional marketing (versus hit-or-miss) we can’t assume that everyone that sees your ad or post or hears of your book will purchase it. So, what can we expect?

Shopping Center

For a new author—one that is relatively unknown, even if you’ve written several books—you can reach for the goal of selling to 1% of those prospects. That means to sell 1,000 books per month you must put your name and title in front of 100,000 people (1,200,000 per year).


If you sell to 2%, you must put your name and title in front of 50,000 people per month (600,000 per year).


And selling to 5% means you must put your name and title in front of 20,000 per month (240,000 per year).


To assume you will sell to a higher percentage is not realistic unless you have a platform with a very large following and/or have been selling successfully for years.


Change that goal of $12,000 per year to $60,000 or $120,000 and you find that your title must be exposed to millions of people. Is this possible? Absolutely—if you have a sponsor sharing your goal, paying for advertisements in magazines or online and carefully, meticulously identifying your ideal target audience. If you spend advertising dollars or your time growing your following but you are not targeting your ideal audience, your earnings will not reach that minimum 1% goal.


So how do you do this?

Social Media

  1. Begin by recording the number of followers you currently have on each of your platforms.
  2. Assess each platform. Are you reaching your ideal audience there? Select those platforms that have the best chance of reaching your target audience and place your focus there.
  3. Consider investing in advertising on those online platforms to grow your audience. Spending just $1.00 per day can easily double or triple your following in a year’s time. Invest five times that amount ($5.00) and you’re on your way. The advantage to online advertising is the laser precision in targeting your ideal reader, and you can set up your advertising to pay only for click-throughs.
  4. Select other ways of reaching your target audience through advertising, such as magazines, newspapers, radio or television. Because these reach a broader audience, it is imperative that you select the right media for your specific market.
  5. Look for other platforms that already have the number of followers you need, such as writing for successful blogs, newspapers or magazines. This has the advantage of providing you with an audience that has already been formed, versus growing it from scratch.
  6. Cross-reference where followers can find you; on social media, provide links to your blogs, for example.


If you are serious about growing your audience, consider the 52-Step Course I’ve designed. You can take each class at your own pace, and ask as many questions as you’d like. The course includes how to target your ideal reader (even if you have no clue who they are), how to decide which social media platforms you should be on, how to manage those platforms in just minutes a day (so you can get back to the real writing you love), and how to grow your audience exponentially for little or no money. Take a look at the list of topics covered here.


How to use the attached spreadsheet:


  1. Download the attachment here. (Microsoft Excel required)
  2. Enter your average royalty at B6 (shown in gray on the worksheet).
  3. Enter your desired annual earnings at B7 (shown in gray on the worksheet).


That’s it! The calculations will be performed for you, so you’ll know how many books you will need to sell based on your average book royalty and your annual goal.


The rest of the worksheet is protected so you don’t inadvertently erase any of the calculations. Cells B2 and B3 allow you to enter your name and the year.


If you have any questions, contact me here and I’ll be happy to help.