Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Sales

What Is #Success for a #Writer?


What Is #Success for a #Writer? I’ve considered this question before—check out these 15 posts on various aspects of “success” (after scrolling down one of the pages, click on the “Older posts” link…)

Now to add to those considerations with an article by author, editor, writing coach, writing workshop leader, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne, entitled, What Is Writing Success?

As usual, I’ll share some excerpts and urge you to read the full article…

First, the “usual” expectations:

“All of us writers know what writing success is: A call from the big agent, a sale to the big publisher, a big big advance, big-promoted publication, big sales figures, big royalties, movie rights, sitcom rights, audio book rights, serialization rights, spinoffs, foreign translations, talk show appearances, multiple awards, weeks and weeks on the Times bestseller list, and even getting asked for an autograph at the supermarket.”

Then, a bit of the truth:

“Many writers (and others) who attain fame react less than positively when they become successful in these terms. After the first thrilling flush, as Internet headlines and tabloids attest, the newly famous often turn to alcohol, drugs, food, uncontrollable spending, mansion collecting, or relentless sexual conquests. A few even commit suicide.”

Noelle then talks about what she experienced after one of her books did better than usual:

“I felt special and important, reveling in all the busyness and attention. But after a while, an inexplicable itchiness seeped in, like a creeping rash. I ate too much, slept too long, and snapped at everyone within mouthshot.”

“This response, I’ve since learned, is common to many writers who reach a longed-for goal. In a letter to a beginning writer, the novelist and short story writer B. J. Chute speaks of the ‘so-called rewards of success’:

“‘Curiously enough, when they do come, you may find that they are not as rewarding as you thought they would be. You may find yourself eager only to get on with the next ivory-tower job.’ (Outside the Ivory Tower: A Letter to a Young Writer, The Writer, January 1983, p. 12).”

And, even though I’m now going to excerpt her summation, I still urge you to go read the full article:

“Let us see each of our writing achievements as another turn upward on our evolving spiral of creative discovery and mastery. This is how we’ll become better and happier writers. We won’t yield to the temptations of externals alone and will probably be surprised when they appear. But mostly, we’ll know with calm certainty, even joy, that true writing success is our writing itself.”

So…

Care to share Your thoughts and feelings about writing “success” in the Comments?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Visit The Story Bazaar

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Advertisements

O.K., If You *Really* Have to, Go Ahead; Write a Book and Publish It . . .


Six years ago, when I’d finished my novel and went through what I’d resolved as the best way to publish (for me…), I was pretty freely telling everyone to write and publish—immediately, if not sooner…

Those six years have seen me do a massive amount of research into the reading, writing, and publishing Scenes—all so I could write this blog…

Before I share four articles that should make most writers think in some new ways, I’ll share just a bit of what I said back in May of 2013 from what I consider the Most Important Post on This Blog:

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book…”

“Yet, writers can find tons of posts and articles and web sites that are based on the mistaken conception that Any book can sell like hotcakes if the author will do X, Y, Z, and, if possible, D, U, and P…”

And, a quote from someone I quoted in that post, bearing on why I call it the most important post here:

“…in business school there’s this point made that if you interview rich people who have won the lottery, you might come to believe that playing the lottery is the only way to become rich. I thought that was interesting. One of the things I’m constantly trying to point out is that we’re not doing nearly enough to highlight both median and failure modes, because that’s where the real lessons lie. As for myself, I find message boards where new writers struggle to sell more than a few copies interesting, and where I harvest data about the low end.”

There’s much more of critical interest to all writers in that post; but, while I hope you’ll go there now and read it and take notes, I’ll finishing writing this post so you have more to consider when you return :-)

So, from the running-around-shouting attitude I had about the book world six years ago , I’m a bit more mature; mostly from having so many assumptions shattered on the rocks of the Truth about writing and publishing and promoting books…

I suppose I could say these next four articles are what I wish I’d read six years and one month ago :-)

First, I’ll share an article called, The Art of Receiving Criticism.

After relating her Before and After experiences of criticism (and, how she now Carefully selects who should give their opinions on her work), the author says:

“Oscar Wilde once commented that to critique a work of art means creating a new work of one’s own. Critique, in itself, is a form of artwork. We wouldn’t demean another person’s writing like we do their critique of our own work. Why should we receive it with any less openness than we would a Van Gogh painting?”

The next article I’ll share is called, Warning: Discoverability Dependency is Hazardous to Your Fiction Marketing.

Discoverability is the buzz-word for doing things to help folks find your book; and, some “experts” will hit you over the head with the idea—I can only suppose they want to scare you so you’ll believe it’s the Only thing you need to do…

A core idea from the article:

“…don’t use discoverability as an excuse to avoid human interaction or to be passive in your marketing. Seek out the right people, don’t just wait.”

The next article could cause quite a bit of resistance from some writers…

It’s called, The Myth Of Reviews, and details some compelling ideas about reviews Not being a magic pill for sales.

Here are two excerpts:

Here’s the thing: If you want more reviews, sell more books. Only people who read the book will review it. If you’re seeing more reviews, it means more people are buying your book.”

“My opinion is that reviews only matter in the edge cases – those situations where the potential reader is either on the fence or is looking for confirmation for the decision they’ve already made. If you haven’t hooked them with both the cover and blurb, the reviews aren’t likely to convince somebody to overlook that pair of sins and take a sample.”

The next recommended article is from a site called, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.

No excerpts for, Mega-List of Free Promotional Sites for Self-Published Books, since that title says it all…

And, if you want to give yourself some Bonus Credit, check out this post about what Jane Friedman has to say about Publishing (plus a few other important things…)…
~~~
Did you know the image up there is an “ancient” printing press?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Visit The Story Bazaar

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Does Book Promotion Actually Help Sell Books?


As far as my experience goes (and, the experience of the trusted souls I seek advice from…), there is no simple or definitive answer to the question, “Does Book Promotion Actually Help Sell Books?”

I am going to be sharing excerpts from an article on Jane Friedman’s blog by a guest writer, which is about seeking “Influencers” to help with book promotion; but, I must give you fair warning by quoting myself from a post back in 2013, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book…

“One source I checked said this:

“’…in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.’

“’The average book in America sells about 500 copies’ (Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006). And average sales have since fallen much more. According to BookScan, which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, only 299 million books were sold in 2008 in the U.S. in all adult nonfiction categories combined. The average U.S. book is now [2011] selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”

Now to move on to the article by Angela Ackerman on Jane Friedman’s blog, How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book.

First excerpt:

“As a writing coach and avid user of social media, one of the most heartbreaking things I see is when an author puts a ton of effort into writing, editing, polishing, and finally publishing a book—only to see it fail to gain traction in the marketplace. Often this comes down to a marketing misstep that’s all too common: failing to understand (and therefore reach) one’s ideal book audience.”

I must insert some personal info…

I’ve been using the readers of this blog as my “ideal book audience” for the last 5 years…

Since November of last year, I’ve added my followers on Wattpad

Since last week, I’ve been focusing on adding a new potential audience—mostly college students that hang-out at a groovy coffeehouse…

That’s what I’m doing, right now…

Plus, I’ve been giving my books away—check the left side-bar & check the following post—Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…—for “justification”…

And, even though Angela is very “upbeat” in her article about finding Influencers to help you sell books, I want to help you insulate yourself against disappointment if none of your efforts help you sell books (don’t forget the first link in this post…)…

So, back to excerpts from Angela—first, her list of Influencers:

popular authors who write very similar books

bloggers who are passionate about a topic or theme that ties into the author’s book

well-regarded book reviewers

bookstore owners

librarians

organizers of literacy or book programs and events

teachers and instructors

groups and organizations that cover the same specific interest featured in the author’s book

celebrities (hey, it can’t hurt, right?)

businesses that cater to the same audience as the author’s in some way

forums and websites dedicated to the same topic/event/theme explored in the author’s book

well-connected individuals (who endorse the book or author to other influential people)

people who are passionate about a particular topic/theme (that ties into the author’s book)

fans of the author and her work (if the author is established)

Very good list

She also has a section titled, How to Reach Out to an Influencer.

And, a short section titled, Remember Anyone Can Be an Influencer.

Plus, How Do You Find Your Influencers?

And, with the strong recommendation that you (if you’re a writer…) go read the full article, I leave you one last excerpt from Angela:

“Bottom line, wouldn’t you just love it if one day someone came to you and offered to put your name forward because they liked and admired you? So, adopt the mindset of a giver. Ask yourself what value you can add, what you can do for others. If you can help, do, because you never know when it will come back to you tenfold. (This is coming from someone who knows this firsthand!)”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

How Many Sales Does It Take to Make a Book a “Success”?


The answer to this post’s title depends on who you ask.

Author Earnings and Book Sales

Image courtesy of Thiago Felipe Festa ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/thiagofest

The author, the publisher, and the readers would have different opinions.

My past post—What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?—says, “An extremely small percentage of writers sells more than 500 copies of a book…”

So, is a successful book one that sells 600 copies, a thousand, hundreds of thousands?

Again, it depends on who you ask

An article about book sales, from National Public Radio in the U.S.A., has Washington Post critic Ron Charles saying:

“When I saw that Anne Enright — [who] I think of as giant in literary fiction, beloved around the world — could only sell 9,000 copies [of The Green Road] in the U.K. I was shocked, that’s really low.”

The Authors Guild in the U.S.A. recently did a member survey that showed a decided drop in book sales per author; however, their members are either traditionally published or have book-earnings of around $3,300 a year

The National Public Radio article goes on to quote Barry Eisler (who’s mentioned in a number of my posts):

“I mean, there are lots of writers … thousands of writers who are making a good living from self-publishing.”

The article continues:

“Eisler is a self-publishing advocate who says the Authors Guild doesn’t represent all writers. Its membership skews older and it is mostly interested in maintaining the status quo of traditional publishing. Self-publishing may not be for everyone, he says. There is no question writers have to be more entrepreneurial. But he says it also offers them a choice when it comes to money and control — and the end result isn’t really all that different from traditional publishing.”

So, self-publishing might help sell more but doesn’t guarantee anything

Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, says:

“We can’t tell people not to write for free. It’s not to their advantage to do it. But if they want to do it, they will do it.”

If you’re a writer and are still reading this post, would you consider responding to Roxana’s statement in the Comments?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

So Ya Think Your Book Will Be a Bestseller?


This post is for those who are brave enough to self-publish; though, it could apply to those going the traditional route, too; and, if you’re not an author, do, please, share it with any writer-friends you may have… 

I decided to write this post after I read Kate Evans‘ article, The Measure of Success in Indie Publishing.

Just a few of Kate’s thoughts:

“…I continue to attempt to market my first novel…

“…I shrivel at the kindly meant enquiry, ‘How are sales?’

“…my lovely novel, my first-born, has not sold as many copies as I thought it would.

“I am lucky to live in an era where I have access to the free marketing potential of social media. I realise that. Yet I have still to work out how social media sells or, indeed, whether it does at all.”

And, she sums up with:

“…the meaning of success comes from within, from the joy of writing, of telling stories, of the imagination.”

If you scan the ‘Net for articles on Book Promotion, something like 90% of them will talk about social media.

And, I agree with Kate that working out social media’s worth is tricky

I said this post might also apply to those treading the traditional path because, due to radical changes in the book market, the big, trad-publishers are expecting authors to have a social media platform of their own (before being considered for publication).

Time was an author could count on the publisher to promote for them; yet, even then most books never sold like most authors wished

So, should all authors just calm down and get used to only selling the statistically-expected 500 books or less?

Well, one thing that changes the equation is that e-books (displayed on digital shelves) will be available for discovery much longer than most print books in brick-and-mortar stores.

So, assuming an author has many years left on earth, they might see better than average sales.

Obviously, if a writer sticks to pumping out popular-genre-books and pulls a few well-organized attention-grabbing stunts, they might sell a few more books.

But, it’s more than likely better to buckle down and take the time to build a strong, secure, honest Author Platform while continuing to write and finding a way to make a living that won’t drive you crazy

Naturally, all the old methods of book promotion are still there—book signings, radio/TV interviews, newspapers, etc.—but, for most of us, they’ll all be rather local, without the Reach of well-planned, persistent on-line activities.

As a start—to begin a quest for creative ways to reach readers—try my past post, Breaking The “Rules” of Book Promotion ~ 6 Different Views.

And, if you’re sincere about taking charge of your own promotion, do read Jane Friedman’s article, The Online Presence That’s a Natural Extension of Who You Are and What You Do. (Is It Just Fantasy?).

Here’s an excerpt from that important article:

“To begin to inspect this problem—and a beginning is all that’s possible for this blog post—I’ll discuss a few writers who exhibit the following qualities:

  • Their writing work is clearly central to everything they do. Or think of it as: writing as guiding star (as it should be).
  • Their voice, online or off, is authentic.
  • Their online presence and engagement is unique to them and, at least from my POV, sustainable and meaningful.”

She shares the efforts of five extremely different authors, then says:

“All of the authors I mentioned—who are quite different in terms of their success, genre, and personalities—are able to focus on their writing and maintain an online presence, while appearing to remain whole. Each has found the right approach based on their strengths and goals, and you can do the same.”

And, I’ll close this post with an exercise

What follows is from another past post about Author Platform. See if you can come up with a few fresh ideas for your own platform from all the different definitions

“What’s a platform for?

“Here are a few definitions from my Oxford dictionary.

All the meanings have been used in various articles I’ve read about Author Platform:

*architectural plan
*draughtsman’s drawing
*chart, a map
*plan of action, government, administration, etc
*scheme, a design, a description
*thing intended or taken as a pattern, a model
*raised level surface or area
*natural or man-made terrace, a flat elevated piece of ground, a tableland, a plateau
*level place constructed for mounting guns in a fort or battery”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com