If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that publishing was never on my bucket list. Going the self-publishing route has fit me in many ways, but there’s a couple real problems involved in the process that I’m going to discuss in some of my upcoming posts. I get asked a lot of questions about what I do and I want to try to be open about some of it. What I like and what I hate. Today is about the concept of self-promotion for the purpose of selling your book.
Let’s not have any misunderstandings here – I suck at it.
Protecting Parker was published a little over a year ago. We put Parker out on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and started the website. There was no advertising beyond my friends and family. At the time, I think I had fewer than seventy personal friends on Facebook. I don’t have many more now. My attitude has always been that it didn’t matter if it sold or not – it was about the writing.
But even though book sales have never been a real priority to me, it is the question I’m asked most often. How many copies have you sold? How’s the book doing? Is the book selling well?
The truth is that asking those questions is simply asking someone how much money they make. I’d never thought much about it until I was speaking to a friend who runs a few head of cattle. He told me that the rudest question you could ask was, “How many cows do you have?” Cows equal cash on the hoof in his world, so it was like asking how much money he had in the bank. You could ask about acreage, because that’s public knowledge (county land records) and many ranchers lease from BLM, so it’s less intrusive, but cash on the hoof is rude.
How many copies have I sold?
I’m not likely to say how many books I’ve sold. It’s not a matter of shame or pride – it’s simply a matter of cash on the hoof, and that’s not anyone’s business. I will tell you that I am not even able to pay my monthly electric bill with the earnings.
How’s the book doing? Is it selling well?
When asked this, I want to ask my own question – Compared to what? I don’t really have anything to compare myself to. Protecting Parker has to be my benchmark. Every copy she sold was an exciting surprise. The simple truth is that it’s still exciting. I remember giggling uncontrollably when I got the first check for royalties. It didn’t matter that it would have barely covered a pedicure, it was still the coolest thing that has ever happened. I’m not sure that getting a royalty check for Protecting Parker will ever get old for me. Now every book I publish is a comparison against Parker. Some move as well – some don’t. But each sale is just as cool as the first!
Am I concerned about how my books sell?
Yes and no. I would like them to sell better, but once again, selling books was never the priority for me. Writing stories for my friends and family to enjoy remains the priority.
I am vain enough to want to sell more books.
But, just how do you sell a book? How do you get noticed among the millions of other books? How do you get anyone to give “you” a try?
All the things I’ve read on the subject of self-publishing list the following things:
An active author website
A page on a social network
Give a few away to get sales
Be willing to sell yourself
I’ll be talking about each of these things over the next couple of weeks. What I’ve tried, what I’ve learned, what I’m willing or unwilling to do, and why writing, not sales, will remain the priority for me. I hope you find it useful.