I’ve admitted it dozens of times on here before, but I’m going to do it again, right this very second…something that I hope all authors are able to do at least in the privacy of their own homes, if not publicly. I was an idiot when I first released my first book. There were, of course, many ways in which I showcased extreme idiocy, but the one of which I’m speaking right now is that for some odd reason, I believed all that was really needed to sell books was to have a book for sale. Therefore…once you release a book to the wild, the hungry masses of eager readers would obviously latch onto it an voraciously devour every word of it.
Alright…so…I may have outwardly known this wasn’t true, but inwardly, it was kind of what I expected. I mean…seriously. Why wouldn’t they?
So…after months and months of sales staying in the single digits per month (if even that)…I had to come to a conclusion. The real world is no where near as cool as the one that happens in my head.
Here’s something that I think authors do realize quite regularly, and will admit to themselves quite readily…although still possibly not as readily. Writing sucks.
No, I don’t mean the actual act of crafting a story (although that does definitely have its ups and downs), I’m referring to the whole business. You know, the pouring your heart and soul into something, finally allowing yourself to pass it out to everyone you can possibly get it to, waiting months and months and months to hear anything back at all, only to feel disheartened because not everyone immediately wants to go out and proclaim the gospel that is your amazing piece of art. Add into that the whole insurmountable task of selling a book (whether through traditional means, or going the self-service route), and you really have one of the most terrible jobs out there. Most terrible simply because, you do all of this with really little promise of ever reaping any sort of financial awards…at least not the millions that you find yourself thinking about as you put yourself to sleep. (Pro-tip: I believe only a little more than a handful of authors have ever made millions off of their books).
I don’t know what it is about art today that gets people so convinced that they will achieve instant great success. Perhaps it’s due to the great focus we have on celebrities (you know…first we talk about the war overseas, followed by who’s hooking up with who! (side note: if they ever get a female doctor, they should totally have an episode called Who’s Hooking up with Who)). However, historically speaking, most artists who have ever lived (you really don’t have to look historically for this either, folks) have languished in almost complete obscurity. Even the ones we know of today.
So, take that to heart when I get to the actual meat of the message…which I’m doing right about now.
Realizing that crazed celebrity status won’t be achieved the second you hit the publish button is the important first step. The next step is to come up with much more reliable manners of gauging your successes. By this I mean, take things a step at a time. If you have a blog, keep an eye on your monthly traffic. If goes up by a full digit, you’re probably on the right track. If you have a facebook fan page, there’s always the ability to get as many likes as you can possibly gain.
On the slightly more business side of things, there’s also the concept of sales goals.
That’s right…if you’re trying to sell a book, you’re now legitimately a business, and one thing that many successful businesses do for themselves is actually project and plan out their intended sales numbers for the coming year. This also just so happens to be a fantastic way to watch your own success. If you set yourself a goal of selling 30 books in a month, you can see, month after month, how close you get to that number. If you’re consistently going over that goal, it’s probably time to set the bar higher.
Sales goals are, in my not-entirely-humble opinion, quite possibly the best way to watch your success roll out in front of you, as well as be able to determine if the marketing attempts you are making are actually doing something.
So, here’s your task, right here and now…set yourself a sales goal. Keep yourself to it. If you don’t get to it this month, you’re going to have to work harder next month to get to it. I set one for myself back in August…almost reached it, but still haven’t quite gotten there. February is the first month since where I actually have a possible chance of making it (due to some changes I’ve made in my methods). I’m hoping this is the month where I finally get to assign myself a new goal.
I’m pretty excited about it.
Have fun out there!