The LDS Book MarketIt may be helpful for authors to understand the practical size of the LDS market. It is difficult to estimate the actual size of a market because of the diversity of languages and cost of shipping to foreign countries. Therefore, when estimating the number of books that can be sold or might be sold, consider using as your reference the Church's North American and Canadian (NAC) membership. Similar statistics can be derived for our Spanish, German, and French speaking brothers and sisters.
As of July 2007, the Church's NAC membership was approximately 5,924,456 people. Generally, only one book will be sold to a family. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the average family is 3.14 people. Therefore the Church's NAC membership is approximately 1,886,769 families. The Church's active membership is approximately 35%; therefore, the ceiling for any publication is 660,369 copies.
That is an enormous number that is rarely approached by authors other than General Authorities.
Tastes and preferences for non-celebrity authors vary from person to person. This is especially true when considering fiction (such as romance) versus nonfiction (such as doctrine). Each publisher's experience will vary, but based on WindRiver Publishing's experience in the LDS market, a common estimate for all books is that only one in twenty households might want to buy any particular book. This establishes the best-seller market size for any LDS book as approximately 33,000 copies. Most books have a lifetime sales potential of one-tenth the best seller market size, or 3,300 copies — which will be larger for some genres, and smaller for others.
All authors should note that there is never a guarantee of sales. Regardless how much money is spent on promotion or the quality of a book, the public may simply decide to read another book. The expectations provided above are averages and are in no way a guarantee for any specific book.
A Labor of LoveBased on the above numbers, new authors obviously can't quit their day jobs. Assuming the best-possible result for a new author, an average royalty of 8% of the retail book price, and an average book price of $15, the lifetime return for a single title is $2,400. There are only three ways to increase this number.
Market Growth 1989–2008The LDS North-American market has enjoyed a twenty-year average annual growth rate of 1.9% for a total market increase of 43%.