In a long interview at The Onion‘s AV Club, novelist Neal Pollack gave readers a frank look at his bookselling track record.
He shared real numbers behind the career of a literary writer who achieved bestseller status and a big book deal. Aspiring writers should read the whole interview for more literary guidance.
What do you think–how many copies make a literary bestseller?
Neal Pollack Anthology Of American Literature: “despite all the attention it was getting, sold maybe 10,000 copies.”
Never Mind The Pollacks: “I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but I got a six-figure advance for Never Mind The Pollacks. Low, low, low six figures, but it was there … It is for a book that has sold, to this day, maybe 4,000 copies.”
Alternadad “[It] got more publicity than two-dozen books combined. I was on Nightline, and they did a piece on my family life. That book was everywhere and did a ton of press. But, again, it sold only 10,000 copies.”
JewBall: “500 copies Kindle and paperback. Which is pretty normal for a self-published book … [Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint] republished it and quickly, very quickly, published it online and, a few months later, as a paperback. It sold 10,000-plus copies since they did that. And it’s never appeared, as far as I know, in a bookstore.”
Downward-Facing Death: “I wrote a yoga novel about that, again sold 10,000 copies. Ten thousand copies appears to be my threshold.”