This weekend was the launch of my book, a moment I have been looking forward to for weeks now. It's finally time that my name goes public, time for the world to see what I can do. I'm out there, and it feels great. So, it was a bit of a blow when I went to check the numbers on my book sales and found them far, FAR lower than I had expected. I definitely wasn't planning on being the next Scott Lynch or Brandon Sanderson, but I was kind of counting on a few more book sales than I had. The number of books sold almost looked like a cruel joke to me. My stomach sank, and I felt a twinge of discouragement. What a great way to start a career as a fiction writer, right?! Truth be told, I've been struggling to stay positive since the weekend, but it turns out that this apparent "flop" is actually quite revealing! Here's what I've discovered thanks to my "unsuccessful" book launch:
- It's a tough industry. With more than 300,000 Kindle eBooks sold on Amazon alone, who was I to think that my debut novel was going to make more than a ripple in the massive ocean that is book sales?
- It's going to take A LOT of work. That's right, I'm going to have to go about working hard just to sell enough books to break even. I'm nowhere near my goal of 120 books sold, and it's going to take a lot of work to reach that goal. A LOT more than I was expecting to.
- Life doesn't hand things to you just for being awesome. No matter how great I think my book is, there are probably many out there that are better. I could have "won the lottery" with this novel, but it's not likely.
- It's better not to "win the lottery". Imagine what would have happened if I would have magically sold thousands of books in the first weekend? I would probably think that every word dripping from my pen is as gold and gems, and I'd definitely overestimate my value as a writer. I may be good, but I'm not THAT GOOD! It's better that I work hard to build my platform and personal brand, as that will force me to spend time doing the little things that will make me successful as an author.
- It's going to take A LOT of work. I repeat myself, but the truth is that I now have to go about building a platform of readers from the ground up. That means reaching out to new people, chatting and making friends, trying to get people to like me as a person before telling them about my book, and expanding my online personality the slow way. It's much more work, but I think it will be better for me to do it this way.
- I'm going to have to be better. If this book is good enough to sell, that means I'm going to have to up the quality of any future books. I don't even know if this book is good enough to sell, because everyone that bought my book did so because they know me and like me enough to throw me the proverbial bone. Anyone who buys my book from now on will probably be doing so because I made friends with them, they read a good review from a third party, or stumbled across it and bought it on the virtue of the book alone.
- I'm going to need to learn a lot more. I love to learn new things, so I'm approaching this as a challenge. If I can learn what it takes to become a writer that has a following and people that buy my books, I will have acquired a new skill--and not one that came naturally to me like writing did. It's going to help me be better for the next time around, and I may even be able to help someone else find their own success!