How Many Should I Print?

August 1999
by Nick Weir-Williams

« Back to Independent Articles

If ever there was a contentious issue in publishing, the size of the first print run is one. Look at PW Forecasts each week-first print run 50,000, the New York publishers proudly proclaim. Is that the number that actually rolls off the press? Very rarely. Should you feel intimidated and small because you are printing 3,000 and not 50,000? Absolutely not. There’s no need to be macho about your print run, in fact it’s a big mistake. The idea propagated by agents and some others in the book trade that the size of the first print run is indicative of the extent of your belief in the book is absurd and does very little service to the industry if it encourages bad publishing decisions to be made.Determining That Magic NumberThere is a simple good answer to “How Many Should I Print?” (and lots of bad ones). You should print the minimum quantity that allows you to reach your planned profit on the book at the pricepoint you have determined the market will accept, assuming that quantity bears a close relationship to the number of copies you believe you can sell at that price in the first year (or two, if the book is more academic in nature).

You must not cheat on these numbers, so you must start with a number of assumptions that you feed into the equation. First, the price. The price you set must be established from the marketplace, not from some multiple of unit cost at this point. You have to know who you are selling the book to and the top price they will pay for it. Then follow…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

Join Today!

« Back to Independent Articles

How to Get Involved!
Marketing Opportunities

From mailings to exhibits, see how IBPA's marketing programs help you grow your sales.

Educational Opportunities

Attend a seminar, ask an expert, and get more free advice with our educational programs.

Become a member

Access exclusive members-only benefits starting at just $10.