2018 By the Numbers

Mon 4 Feb 2019 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

While collecting info and working on 2018 taxes and royalties, I thought it would be fun (for me at least) to look at some 2018 sales numbers — or at least some relative numbers. This is still true:

In terms of sales, 2018 seems to have been our best year yet — thank you authors, booksellers, and writers! And since 2017 when we raised LCRW pay rates to $0.03/word for fiction subscriptions have started going up again. Subscription choices R us.

What had been a resurgence of print sales in the last few years dropped off a little as ebooks rose to just less than a third of total sales. Here’s a chart comparing our print to ebook sales from 2010 to 2018. We’ve been selling ebooks since at least 2005 and you can see that in 2010 print still held about 90% of sales. That dropped to 50% by 2014 — which is why lots of people were very worried about the future. I’m glad to see the rebalancing that’s happened in the last couple of years. However, I don’t think too much can be made from this chart as Small Beer sales aren’t a good snapshot of publishing in general: our sales volumes are too low, publishing schedules too irregular, and too easily impacted by variations in the sales of one or two books.

Of those books sold, here are our 2018 Top 10 Bestsellers

  1. Sarah Rees Brennan · In Other Lands (2017)
  2. Kij Johnson · At the Mouth of the River of Bees (2012)
  3. Ursula K. Le Guin · Words Are My Matter (2016)
  4. * Vandana Singh · Ambiguity Machines & Other Stories
  5. * John Schoffstall · Half-Witch
  6. * Claire G. Coleman · Terra Nullius
  7. * Andy Duncan · An Agent of Utopia
  8. * Abbey Mei Otis · Alien Virus Love Disaster
  9. Nathan Ballingrud · North American Lake Monsters (2013)
  10. Kelly Link · Stranger Things Happen (2001)


  1. This bestseller list is made up of net sales (gross sales minus returns) of our print and ebook editions.
  2. These are not NPD/Bookscan figures or sales from Consortium our distributor.
  3. This list does not include any ebooks that were included in Humble Bundle or StoryBundles.
  4. This list does not include copies sold to book clubs.
  5. I’ve put a * by the five 2018 titles that made this list: new books keepin’ the lights on!
  6. Hey, doubters: short story collections sell.

Our 2018 bestseller came out in 2017: Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands is a powerhouse. We have a paperback coming in September which I expect will be our 2019 bestseller.

Kij Johnson’s collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees came roaring back in at #2 due to thousands of copies being picked up to go with a textbook which contains her unforgettable story “Ponies.”

#3, ach.

Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters continues to do well — I imagine partly because of the upcoming film based on one of his stories (not included in this book) and partly because NALM has scared the heck out of a reader they then pass it on to scare the heck out of a friend.

And coming in at #10 is the first book we published and one of the main reasons we get to keep publishing books, Kelly’s perennially solid selling debut Stranger Things Happen.

I saw that in a previous post like this [2011 · 2012 · 2013 — I know I was too depressed in the last couple of years to do these] I’d also noted which books were included in the annual Locus Recommended Reading list, so here are our 2018 titles on the just-released list, alphabetically by title:

  1. Abbey Mei Otis · Alien Virus Love Disaster
  2. Vandana Singh · Ambiguity Machines & Other Stories
  3. Andy Duncan · An Agent of Utopia
  4. Maria Romasco Moore, “Dying Light,” (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #37)
  5. John Schoffstall · Half-Witch

Did we really just publish 3 collections all beginning with A? Weird. And look at all that black and orange below.

Not everything we published made the list, but it was a good showing none the less. Congratulations to all the writers on the list, it is a great thing to be read. Feel free to vote for these books and any other faves in the Locus survey. And to those authors not on the list, next time.

Here’s our plan for 2019 and 2020, should we all survive, is looking good. Thanks for reading this and any (or all!) of the books and zines we published in 2018.


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