Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Your Book Sales

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Hello, Everybody! I hope that everyone had a wonderful, relaxing weekend (and that you remembered to set your clocks forward!). I got almost zero sleep last night, but hey; #teamnosleep.

Anyhoo, today I’d like to talk about something that has been on my mind for quite some time. Every now and then, when I’m strolling along these online streets, I’ll run across a heartbreaking post by an author who is upset/confused/derailed by the fact that they’ve had zero or “low” book sales. The case may be that the author has either hired a marketing company to promote their book  and nothing has happened or has tried promoting the book online themselves to no avail. Oftentimes, I’ll look at the author’s profile and see what the “problem” might be:

  1. They don’t have a good book cover.
  2. The blurb might be too vague and/or doesn’t match the feeling evoked by the cover.
  3. They haven’t been able to connect with their target audience (or worse, there’s a very limited market for what they’re writing. Yikes!).

But fourth, and this is often the case, they only have one book! One book!  Most of the time I want to reach out to them with an author-to-author pep talk, letting them know that everything will be fine, but folks are crazy these days and you never know how they’ll respond, so I typically will just do spirit fingers in front of my computer.

Some of you might think I’m crazy (and you’d be right to some extent), but I am a firm believer in the idea that an author shouldn’t stress about his/her book sales.

Chill out people

Why not? 

Well, I’m glad you asked!

Building your platform takes time, and as I’m sure you all know, it can take years for someone to become an overnight success. I’ve spoken ad nauseam here about the Bella Andre/Christina C. Jones approach to building your writing career (write many quality books, and the peoples shall come). Sometimes, all you need to sell a book is…more books! But I know how heartbreaking it can be to put your heart and soul into a project, publish it, and then sit there feeling like nobody cares. It hurts!

Here are a couple of scenarios I’ve seen:

You hire Company A to do your book promotion. You have a blog tour where you might have some cover reveals and do some guest posts and by the end of the week, you expect at least one sale, but when you check your sales report, you’re shocked to discover that:

  1. No one, not even your grandmother (who you gave a Smashwords coupon to), has purchased your book.
  2. Your sales ranking is in the negative twenties.
  3. When you go to Amazon, the “people who also searched for” function is totally wrong! Your book is about ninja cats taking over Manhattan but somehow, your book got grouped with werewolf erotica. The horror!

Or, you opt out of hiring Company A and instead decide to do your marketing yourself. You organize your own blog tour, Tweet until the Twitterverse feels like your own personal heaven, and promote your book like crazy on Facebook. Still, no book sales!

What if I told you that none  of these scenarios are the kiss of death? What if, instead of book sales, with each blog tour or guest post, you’re gaining increased visibility? All this means is brand recognition. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen those doggone Mucinex commercials without really paying attention to what the product was or what they were selling. But after I caught a cold and went to CVS, guess what I found myself looking for? Mucinex! My point is this: putting yourself out there might not lead to sales right away, but as long as you keep writing quality books (and keep your name out there through blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc), that increased visibility can eventually lead to a reader saying, “Hey! I’ve heard this name before. And this book looks like something I might like. I think I shall give this author a try.” And booya; a match made in author/reader heaven. Doesn’t that just give you all the smileys???

Now, I know this might not be comforting to some of our author pals who want best seller status right away. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a living as an author! But it might take Author A a tad bit longer than Author B to build their audience, and comparing our journey to success to someone else’s  will just lead to heartache, heartburn, and possible hair loss, and I don’t know about ya’ll but I needs my edges (#saveouredges). So instead of always quantifying your book marketing efforts in terms of book sales, how about considering it a success when more people have been exposed to you and your work–something that can potentially help the sales of subsequent releases???

What about others? Am I being too romantic here? Is increased visibility just as valuable as book sales? How do you quantify your marketing efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

21 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Your Book Sales

  1. Pingback: Friday Finds: Week 78 and 79 | Avid Reader

  2. It really does take time, so in the meantime, besides writing more books, also try to figure out a way to make a living so that the creative soul doesn’t starve from the necessary stuff (like food, a roof etc.). I’ve been reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it’s been fun.

  3. You’re not wrong Quanie. ‘If you build it, they will come’…in time. Book sales are nice, really nice but a growing audience is even better. I know that I’ll forget that once in a while but I’ll remember this post as a reminder. And try my hardest to stay away from book sales and rank stats.

  4. Quanie, how did you know my WIP is about ninja cats taking over Manhattan!!???? Get out of my head, girl! HAHA I love your posts so hard. All this marketing stuff will be terrifying me come summer, but for now I just try not to have anxiety over all the things I can’t control (God knows that’s pretty much everything in life, ha)…although as of now when I search my book on Amazon a ton of self-published porn books come up which I’m less than thrilled about. I guess it’s because I have “blush” in the title (which I never associated with sex!? I always thought “blush” was a sweet, flirty word. lol

  5. I agree–I’ve heard that all my writing life. If you have one book out there, someone’s inevitably going to go back and read other things you’ve written if they like you. That can include things you wrote three years ago, even! The good thing about Amazon is that they can always find it. At one time, if your books were on “backlist,” they were never bought, but backlist/frontlist doesn’t really matter to shoppers now, except to the people who buy books in bookstores.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..What Led Me to Poetry? Guest Blog by Lidy WilksMy Profile

    • I say that all the time; people who like one book will likely search for your others. I was shocked that after I released my last novel, the sales for It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy also increased. I was like, “But I’m not promoting that book!” But I realized that people who enjoyed The New Mrs. Collins wanted to check out more of my work, even though the books are in different genres.
      Quanie recently posted..Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Your Book SalesMy Profile

  6. Such a great reminder! I’m definitely in this for the long haul. And I don’t even start reading a series unless it’s done anymore because I’m so impatient, so I can’t fault anyone who won’t pick up mine until the last book is written. Visibility is important and good word of mouth sells books—that can take some time to acquire.

    It’s tough sometimes when the sales report isn’t showing what you hope it will, but usually when I feel discouraged, someone will tweet me, or mention my books and I’ll remember that new people find them all the time. I’m grateful for every single sale, and that puts it in perspective.
    Leslye recently posted..Song of Blood & Stone wins the BCALA 2016 Self-Publishing EBook AwardMy Profile

  7. Increased visibility is priceless. I try to tell authors that a lack of sales aren’t everything, but they still aren’t convinced. I’ve had my moments where I’ve been bummed about a lack of sales. Now I hardly look at my rank anymore. When I do, the number is so high…into the millions…and I get depressed. No more of that!
    Chrys Fey recently posted..Writing About: St. Patrick’s Day + R.A.N.T.My Profile

    • It’s so easy to feel depressed! Thankfully for me, I was so naive when I first published, I didn’t know anything about a sales rank or how to check it! If I had, I would have been checking it every day and probably would have gotten discouraged. I totally take comfort in the fact that I get positive feedback from readers about my stories, so I know that once I am finally able to increase my production, my audience will increase by leaps and bounds. I believe!
      Quanie recently posted..Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Your Book SalesMy Profile

  8. I should know by now to not read your blog while drinking anything. The spray ish almost got very real @ “out here in these author streets”, “#saveouredges” and not even Granny buying the doggone book. #Slayed

    I agree wholeheartedly with what everything you said. It takes time and it’s something a lot of newbies (including myself) need to hear. All the experienced authors say the best marketing/promotional strategy is to write more books! And looking at it from reader’s perspective, I agree with that. When I find a new author I love, nothing pleases me more than to see a long list of back logged books by them. We live in the binge generation. We want it all and we want it now. So it makes sense that the more books you have, the more sales you’ll have.

    The hard part is taking your time, keeping your hand to the plow and building your platform while writing good quality books. I’m only hoping it’s all worth it in the end!
    Faith Simone recently posted..#cheatdeathMy Profile

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