I had planned to write a recap of the year, mostly about how I've grown as a writer and what I've learned, but I got a check in the mail yesterday.
A royalty check from the publisher. And it was bigger than I thought it was going to be.
Because of the relationship I had with the publisher I had been hesitant to contact her to see actual numbers on how many books I sold. And, to be honest, I was afraid. I was worried I'd sold around twenty or thirty books to a few of my friends. When I set out to sell a thousand books, I intended to work my ass of to do exactly that. Unfortunately, I learned along the way that I'm not much of a salesman.
And to be completely honest I was a little naïve. If anything the last year taught me that books don't sell themselves. Some do just with the authors name, but those authors are few and far between. Probably less than 1 or 2 percent. (That's my opinion not a fact) At the height of my sales, in late February, I was in the top twenty thousand authors selling books on Amazon. I didn't check today, but I'm sure my rank is back up over one million. That's out of over two million registered authors, give or take. I might be a bit higher because I sold three books in December, but it will fall quickly again.
I love to write. There is no denying that. But, today you need to be more than just a writer to get into this business. That is the hard truth I learned this past year.
I wrote what I thought was a sellable book and tried what is considered the traditional method of querying literary agents to represent it. When that didn't work I went to independent publishers and signed with Annaphora. After it was published, I wasn't ready to get out there and sell my book. I didn't know how, my marketing plan was weak, and I'm not good at that part of it. I had hoped that the book would take off on it's own, just through word of mouth. That was me being naïve.
So I didn't want to know how many books I actually sold, even thought I sort of did.
Typical me, I avoided the question of how many books I sold because while I wanted to know, I didn't want to know how much I failed at hitting my goal of 1,000.
Then I got an email from the publisher explaining my royalty check which pretty much told me how many books I actually sold. And I was pleasantly surprised.
Current marketing plans say you can expect anywhere from 10% to 15% of your Facebook friends to support your book, (which may be low because they are selling their plan at this point) and offer lots of other suggestions. I read two books on marketing your book, but one of those was specific to ebooks and my publisher didn't do mine as an ebook. (long story) I tried some of the strategies they suggested but I couldn't make them work.
I pretty much relied on Facebook. And I have some great friends who I know went out there and purchased it, shared my post, and they are amazing. I'd say forty of them contacted me over the last year who I know bought it and read it. I have 453 friends right now. And I know each one personally. That is right around the 10% to 15% mark.
I sold over two hundred books which would be closer to the 50% mark.
That is pretty freaking cool if you ask me.
I'm not sitting down with Stephen King or anything. But I'm still proud that my book reached out past my circle of friends and into the home of some strangers. I hope they enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.
So, lessons learned: Books don't sell themselves. I'm not the best salesman.
I don't know about you but addressing those lessons in 2017 sounds like a good plan to me.