The “Dummies” brand is ubiquitous. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t heard of some topic or another that doesn’t have a matching dummies title. But how well do these books really sell?

I decided to track the sales of five leading dummies titles to get a feel for the type of sales these books were making over the typical week. The results may surprise you – earnings for some Dummies books show they’re not all that stupid ;)

It turns out that, on average, their sales figures are modest but not poor. At least relative to the books I tracked in previous sales smackdowns, like:

The following dummies books were tracked over the week beginning 1st Feb, 2012:

### Sales data for Dummies titles (week starting Feb 1st, 2012)

Sales figures and average sales rank are also provided for each book (according to the sales graph provided courtesy of RankTracer – Amazon sales analytics):

Ok, so no prizes for noticing that “Kindle Fire for Dummies” is a smash hit. Any guesses why?

Taking nothing away from the author, Nancy C. Muir, it is likely that the unsurpassed sales and interest in the Kindle Fire itself, as highlighted in a previous article entitled “Kindle Fire’s analytics indicate unprecedented sales figures“, is driving sales of this book.

### Calculating how much are Dummies authors earning

Let’s do a few quick calculations to work out the rough earnings of each of these authors. Feel free to modify the assumptions I make, or change the numbers to reflect what you believe to be a more accurate picture.

I base my assumptions on my own experience as an author (who, in the past, has written books for the Dummies’ parent company Wiley, amongst others).

Here is my list of assumptions:

• Amazon.com constitutes around 20% of the overall sales of a title
• An author receives, in general, 15% of the publisher’s net revenue of each book sold
• The publisher’s net revenue from a book is about 30% of the retail price of the book

This gives us an equation that looks like this:

Author royalties = Books sold on Amazon x book price x 5 (to get total books sales) x 0.3 (to get publisher’s net revenue) x 0.15 (to get authors revenue) = books sold on Amazon x book price x 0.225

### Dummies authors’ earnings for the week starting 1st Feb, 2012

Let’s plug these assumptions into each book to get the author’s royalty earning for the week starting Feb 1st, 2012:

Whoa! Nancy C. Muir is earning nearly \$6000 a week off one title. That is quite amazing. Despite what many people think, the publishing world is not floating in cash. The vast majority of books make little to no money at all.

As you can see from the earnings of the other authors, and remember that these books are selling modestly well, that the earnings from those books would not really be sufficient to give up their day jobs… Unless, of course, they have multiple books selling simultaneously.

If you’d like to see a comparison of other books or products (it could be anything), connect with me on Twitter or Google+ and let me know. Alternatively, you can create your own infographic by creating an account on RankTracer and purchasing a few subscriptions to track different books and products for comparison.

Feel free to share your thoughts about these sales figures/earnings and what they mean in the comments below. If you have any additional insight, I’d love to hear it.