100 ways to celebrate your literary success

100 print books

You’ve finished your novel, you’re ready to self publish, and you’re considering print books for promotion and giveaways. How many should you print? Make it an even 100 to start with!

WARNING – This blog post contains math.

Wait! Don’t let that scare you. These are the kinds of numbers that matter for independent authors. I promise you it won’t include algebra or those blasted hard story problems from all our middle school nightmares.

Let’s start with three numbers:

66. That’s the percentage of readers who prefer print books to digital eBooks. That’s a lot of people who love old-school ink and paper.

635 million. That’s how many print books sold in the U.S. in 2014, an increase of over 3% from 2013 sales, and the first increase since the advent of eBooks and digital readers.

And most important for you:

100. As in the number of print books that BookBaby publishing specialists recommend for first time authors. Why 100? You’re going to need them – and probably more.

What the hell am I going to do with 100 books?

We have authors call us all the time asking “What the hell am I going to do with 100 books?” My fellow BookBaby blogger Chris Robley posted his response a couple of years ago.

My response is in the form of another question: Are you sure that’s going to be enough?

Since we’re okay with numbers now, let’s see how easily these printed books find a home:

(1) The first one off the press goes to you. The look, the weight of it, even that new-ink smell – you have to have that one special copy for yourself. Kept on the shelf, like a trophy.

(3) One for your spouse who seldom/never/often complained about how much time you were devoting to your book. And two for your parents who, although very proud of you, were likely having the same thoughts.

(15) Throw a book release party. Your close friends and family are going to want signed copies.

(5) For holiday gifts to your uncle, aunt and cousins. Your family size will vary.

(2) One for that favorite English or writing teacher who inspired and encouraged you for all those years. The other goes to that hated instructor who thought your writing to be the equivalent of finger nails on the blackboard.

(10) Give back to the community. Your book will be welcomed in local libraries, hospital waiting rooms, Veteran’s hospitals, YMCAs, Senior Centers, shelters, and dozens of other places.

(5) Want to take a stab at traditional publishing? You’ll need some to send out to agents who prefer printed books.

(3) Ditto for local book reviewers. Some are fine with digital eBook files, but sending a book with a beautiful cover adds some cachet to your review request.

(5) There’s nothing like a printed book to get the attention of the local media – radio, TV and newspaper – to encourage them to devote space and time to the work of a local author.

(2) Want to register your book with the Library of Congress? You’ll need two copies sent to Washington D.C.

(8) Build your following: Use copies as giveaways to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media followers to encourage people to sign up to your email list.

(30) This reserves 10 books for 3 book signings. Depending on how hard you work to promote your title, this number could easily be 2x, 5x or more.

(1) This one goes to that ‘ex’ who never thought you’d amount to anything. Turns out you get the last word(s)!

(5) Keep a supply in your car. You never know when you’ll want to hand one out to someone new in your life.

(1) For the boss. Maybe around your annual review and raise time?

(1) One has to go here: www.bookcrossing.com

(1) How about a random act of pay-it-forward? Leave it on the table of your favorite coffee shop, with a note explaining how this copy is meant to be shared. Ask the reader to read it and pass it along in the same way, in a public setting, with his or her own note.

(1) Send a copy to Oprah because, well, you never know.

So adding it all up… Thirteen plus eight, carry the nine, the cube root of 77… a train leaves Chicago at noon going 73 miles per hour…

That makes 99 books.

Pull out one more for yourself and put it on your desk or bedside table, someplace where you can look at it every day, open it up, leaf through it and say: I did it!

Image via ShutterStock.com


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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and President Emeritus of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service provider. After a successful career with companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Pinnacle Orchards, Steven joined AVL Digital in 2004 as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. The native Oregonian was tapped to lead BookBaby, the company’s new publishing division, in late 2014. BookBaby’s growing book-printing operation is located outside Philadelphia, PA, and employs over 100 book-publishing experts across the United States to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Steven retired as brand President in 2022 and continues to contribute via weekly emails, industry guides, and posts on the BookBaby blog. He’s in the process of relocating full-time to southern France in early 2023. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.


  1. […] infographic that spells out an idea and puts it into perspective. So while you may have enjoyed the long-form version of this concept in an earlier post, we asked our designers to create this infographic to help add a colorful twist […]

  2. […] Barnes & Noble and other stores in the pre-sales status. You’ve received your shipment of 100 or so books and you can’t wait to get them into the hands of your readers! Now is the time to throttle up […]

  3. I hope to make this math problem one of my issues in a few months… hopefully I will win some of the goodies up for grabs when I win the camp NaNoWriMo this july… I am using camp to run through my final edits before I look into professional edits… lets keep the math flowing :P tracey l clark

  4. Great post, Steven. Many new authors choose ebook publishing because it is cheaper, but you have given us plenty of great ideas on the value of hard copies. I will certainly be saving this post for my own file and sharing it with my clients.

  5. Enjoyed this very much, especially citing examples of various places to leave books. I hadn’t given a thought to VA hospitals, the Y, or shelters. Good ideas, all!

  6. Great insight. I have just finished writing my first draft of my very first novel. And wtf to do about publishing and all that jazz comes way later. But it’s always good to know things and learn along the process. The mention of math turn me off for a second lol but I’m glad that I continued reading. Everythjng you said makes sense.


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