This writing life turns out to be a roller-coaster that just doesn't stop!
There's the creative and writing process, but then you have to run the gauntlet of publishing as well as the sales and marketing aspects. It can also be hard to focus on what success really means to us when the stories of mega-indies fill the publishing press. Today's article by Leslie Ramey from Compulsion Reads challenges us to reconsider …
From the first moment you officially became a self-published author, I’m sure you have discussed, worried and debated your success or lack thereof, which for many authors is all about the numbers.
We stalk our sales reports like we are teenagers worried our boyfriends are cheating on us. This self-abuse beats on our confidence and has us hitting our heads on our desk as we try to come up with new marketing gimmicks or fretting over why readers don’t want to read our books. Self-publishing is hard. Finding readers to take a chance on your book is even harder.
While it would be amazing to quit our day jobs and become writers full time, reality has a different plan for most of us. It is estimated that most self-published authors will only sell between 100-250 copies of their books. It can be soul-crushing to watch your magnum opus languish, which is why it’s time to take a step back and redefine what it means to be successful at self-publishing.
Here are the standards that I think self-publishers should use when they ask themselves, Was it worth it?
You have written and published a book which means you are an author.
Writer Joel Epstein has estimated that 81% of the US population wants to publish a book. If Mr. Epstein is correct, that works out to be 200,000,000 people in the United States, and we haven’t even looked at other countries with just as many ambitious and creative people.
Last year approximately 250,000 books were self-published. If we assume that each book was written by one person that means less than 0.125% of Americans followed their dream to publish last year. This number is pretty inflated since we know that many authors wrote more than one book last year and we haven’t included all of the people around the world who wrote some of those novels.
What this really means is that if you have written and published a book you have done something that 99.98% of the people who just dream about writing didn’t do. The fact is you are not a failure. Going after your dream and sucking up the fear that comes with an endeavor like self-publishing makes you a hero. So, put away your creeper binoculars, turn away from your Amazon sales report and bask in your success at completing your dream of writing and publishing a book.
You’ve sold at least one book to a stranger
We all know that we have a core group of loyal supporters who will buy our books. They love us because they are our family and don’t have a choice, or they are our friends and despite our canceling plans with them to write, they still want to hang out with us. These loyalists will be the first to buy our books in both e-versions and print. We can count on those sales.
Now, if you sold even a single book to someone you didn’t know, then you, my friend, have beaten some serious odds.
A study done by the Pew Internet Library Service showed that 75% of Americans read at least one book in the last year. Of these, 48% read less than one book a month. We know that many of these readers are probably only reading books from their favorite authors or that are on a bestseller list. The actual percentage of the reading public that would be willing to take a chance on an unknown self-published author is very small.
If you are an indie author, chances are your book is only available through online retailers or in e-version, which according to some studies only about 33% of readers own. The competition is stiff. Forget about selling 100 -250 books. If you are selling any copies to complete strangers then you are a success and should be elated with that accomplishment. Ahem – don’t leave to check those numbers (you can do that in a minute if you really need to).
Your book has earned accolades
We all know that book reviews are a great way to attract new readers and sell more copies. Getting people to write reviews about your book is almost as hard as it was to write the dang thing. Our friends and family are intimidated or just don’t have the time to whip out 300 words of awesomeness describing your book.
So, if you have earned positive reviews (anything with 4 stars or higher is excellent) then you are not failing at self-publishing. Earning an endorsement from Compulsion Reads, a great review from Kirkus Indie, a nod from the Discovery Awards by IndieReader or any other third party is another source of great praise. These organizations can give you unbiased insight into your writing that you can hopefully be proud of.
It’s time for writers to stop beating themselves up.
We need to embrace our success and stop watching those sales reports (for the last time, your boyfriend is not cheating on you).
Don’t give up or allow yourself to be pushed down by negative babble or thoughts.
If you have written a book, then you are wonderful. Selling just one of those is a huge feat that deserves to be celebrated. If you started writing because you love it then keep at it. You never know which one of your books could be the next bestseller that launches you into the headlines and lets you quit your day job.
How do you feel about the definition of success as an indie author? Please do add your comments below as this is an important conversation.
Compulsion Reads, created by Jessica Bennett and Leslie Ramey, seeks to shine the spotlight on quality indie books by endorsing those books that meet CR’s strict quality standards.
Learn more about Compulsion Reads by visiting www.Compulsionreads.com. Enjoy our kooky video, read about our endorsement criteria and visit our growing library of endorsed indie books. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons roller-coaster by hounddiggity