My Take On . . . Book Sales Numbers
Posted by mikedellosso
Every September and March I develop an unusual twitch. It’s called stress. Anxiety. It’s called royalty statement time.
Every six months I get a royalty statement and on that statement are the sales numbers for each of my books. Both for the period and total.
Mostly, I hate those statements.
Two of the most-asked questions I get as a writer are: Where do you get your ideas? and What are your sales like?
Mostly, I hate those questions.
Writers get into writing because we love to write (duh!), because we love the creativity of it and we love sharing our stories with others. But there’s this other side to writing that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, doesn’t go away. Numbers.
Writing is an art but it’s also a business and while craft and style and creativity rule in our minds, sales numbers rule in the minds of a lot of other people. That’s a reality. Publishers look at sales numbers and more times than not those numbers drive how much money goes into marketing the book, how many resources get alloted to it, and whether or not they offer another contract. It’s a tough business, but it is just that . . . a business.
Every author wants to see his or her book putting up big numbers. In some weird way it seems like confirmation that yes, he is talented, people do enjoy his books, and the publisher did indeed make a good decision to publish his work. In a lot of ways big sales numbers = success.
The questions then arise about what qualifies as “big” numbers, how many books sold do publishers look for, what’s the measure of success? And the answers will vary from publisher to publisher. There’s really no standard.
As an author I care about the numbers. I do because I want to keep writing. But I try my hardest to fight the tendency to put the worth of my writing and even myself on the amount of books sold. There are just too man factors involved in why a book sells well or not.
As an author I want to focus on crafting the best story I can with the most worthwhile message. I want to impact lives, get people thinking, entertain, and yes, sometimes, scare the poo out of a reader.
Most of the time I think I’m somewhat successful at that. But I must admit, when the royalty statement comes I usually get all tense, go somewhere private, and open the letter. Then I walk around the rest of the evening muttering to myself about how I’m wasting my time, how it isn’t worth all the effort involved, how I’d be better off using my time getting a real part-time job. It takes me at least a few days to talk myself off that cliff and get back to writing.
And then six months later we do it all again.
But it’s worth it. Not because of the meager financial reward, but because of the readers I know are being impacted. It’s worth it for everything that isn’t financial, that doesn’t depend on numbers. It’s worth it because of the people. And really, isn’t that the way everything in life should be?
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About mikedellossoMike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.
Posted on May 15, 2013, in Giveaways, Writing Life and tagged Author, Book, Book sales numbers, Fiction sales, Publishing, Royalties, Royalty statement, Sales, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.