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:
- They don’t have a good book cover.
- The blurb might be too vague and/or doesn’t match the feeling evoked by the cover.
- 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.
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:
- No one, not even your grandmother (who you gave a Smashwords coupon to), has purchased your book.
- Your sales ranking is in the negative twenties.
- 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!