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Printing Quantity: Keeping the Right Number of Books on Hand

November 24, 2021 (Last Updated December 15, 2021)

Marcy G.

When it comes to self-publishing, there is nothing quite like that euphoric moment of finalizing your storytelling thoughts into a coherent work of art. Even more, nailing down the perfect cover design on top of that all makes for one exciting chapter to unlock within your author career. But as wonderful and celebratory as it is reaching this final stage, you are bound to come across the burning question all authors face when finishing a book: how many books do I print?


All in all, the real and raw answer to this printing quantity question is that…it depends. You see, when it comes to book quantity, this is not a one-size-fits-all type of scenario. In fact, this very reality is why surfacing the right printing quantity for your personal needs can be a hard one to address. However, though the golden number itself can sway from author to author, there are some clear-cut factors you can deep dive into that can help you navigate successfully through this very common (and often frustrating) self-publishing challenge.


Type of Book You Are Publishing

As any self-publishing author knows, not all books are created equal, and the same goes for book genres. With that being said, and pushing content quality aside for a moment, some genres just innately sell easier/faster than others. For example, romance, crime/mystery, and self-help books are much more popular when it comes to book sales than horror or memoirs. This means when planning out your printing quantity, take book interest and core audiences into consideration, as this can help you pinpoint the final book quantity number.




§  Romance with strong marketing = high print run (500+)

§  Romance with little marketing = medium print run (200+)

§  Horror with little marketing and no long-term objectives = small print run (25-50+)


What Is Your Self-Publishing Goal?

When you got into this self-publishing journey, were you in it for the riches or to merely tell a story to share with others? Sure, money can be great regardless of the side you're on, but it can be the indicator if this was a one-time publishing deal or something you are looking to make a real living off of. And you guessed it, this can guide you on what your book quantity should be. For some more insight, if you are in this for the career/long haul, then going with a larger printing quantity would be recommended. If your book was a one-and-done thing and you had no intention of becoming a full-time author, then keeping a small inventory would make sense.


Your Marketing Plan and Budget

Finally, let’s talk about marketing and budget. In general, you should have a set budget in the back of your mind on what you are willing to spend in terms of printing and marketing. Of course, the higher your budget is, the more you can expand on your marketing efforts. This becomes a domino effect, as the more marketing you do, the higher your chances are at increasing your sales/pre-order demand. In turn, you’ll need a higher book quantity to compensate. Think of this as an ‘effort in, effort out’ practice.


For this one, let’s say you created a robust marketing strategy that includes social media marketing, pre-sale signing, and email marketing, leaving you feel well-trained to sell a lot of books. For this, printing a larger run can ensure you have enough inventory to support it all, such as bookstore consignment events, social media giveaways, and book release fairs. Couple this with the points above can all help you home in on your optimal book quantity to keep on hand. 


If you do have an email list set up, it may be wise to send out an initial newsletter with a form to fill out for pre-sales. This will help you gauge initial interest in your book and potential sales going in.


Summary – The Final Puzzle Piece

In a perfect world, there would be a single book quantity that all authors could use to make this leg of the process a straightforward and seamless one. But the reality is that printing quantity is a highly diverse concept and one that derives from many different elements that are all working together simultaneously. In short, it all boils down to what your foundation itself looks like as an author.


From your marketing plan, your self-publishing reputation, your budget, to your initial book goals, these are all factors that can help you unveil your ideal book quantity needs. And when you finally do and feel confident on the number you chose; you can have the peace of mind knowing that our 48 Hour Books team is ready to help - whether it be 50 books or 5,000+.


Note to Authors!


Here at 48 Hour Books, you can also take full advantage of getting 25 FREE books printed when you order 100 books or more – perfect for pre-sale support, family/friend giveaways, or to simply have an inventory margin to be extra prepared for that anticipated success. You can receive instant pricing any time using our price calculator.

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Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.


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