If you wrote a book and published it, congratulations! You’re a small business owner, and entrepreneur. A budding capitalist.
You write your product. That’s cool!
Then, you sell your product.
So… you’re a salesperson.
Most of you NEVER wanted to be salespeople.
Your book/books are your business, and you have a small staff of employees. Probably just you. That means you are the boss, but also the manufacturer, the salesperson, the marketer, the accountant… the janitor… Since without sales there really isn’t any business, the most important thing is selling the product (after you have a product).
Whether it is a hobby or a part-time job or full-time job, that just means the amount of JOY or PAIN & SUFFERING you go through are magnified. Whether you are selling 1 book a week, 1 book an hour, or 1 book a minute, you probably want that number to go up.
Pick a good number of sales for a day, a week, or a month, or a year, and manage your expectations to trends, not little blips. Doesn’t matter what number you pick; some of you are new and some of you have been doing this a while. When I published my first book, it didn’t sell squat for a long time. A loooooooooooooong time.
Back then, if I sold a book a day, I was on FIRE! I was king of the world, a marketing genius! Things were going my way! Oprah was sure to call. I started rehearsing my Oprah interview questions and answers. Honest!
I don’t care where you are on the sales volume ladder, if you go a few days without making a sale, you will be convinced that you are suddenly a dog. Worthless. Unfit to walk the earth. Nothing is coming your way except more empty Amazon sales reports.
By picking a time frame of a week and setting my new-author-self’s expectations to sales over a week, I wasn’t disappointed if I didn’t sell a book that day. I kept doing things every day to sell books, knowing they’d come in. That’s hard when they don’t come in, which is why you track efforts and results, but you want to give yourself enough time to produce a result before stopping an activity.
- UNDERSTAND: You are the same author on a good sales day as you were on a bad sales day. Your book is still just as good. (This is easy to say but hard to make yourself believe on a bad sales day.)
Welcome to the emotional roller coaster that is sales! It will mess with you!
Give yourself time to develop that thick skin for this. It’s not easy. I have had a book flying off the shelves. THOUSANDS of copies over a few short days. I was a guru. Talk to me three months later when I hadn’t sold for three days. I was an idiot. Except, I wasn’t. I was just as good as when I was selling big.
Your brain understands this. Your gut does not.
At first, you will question everything when sales dip. Or when your second book doesn’t launch better than your first. Or when book three is a blockbuster and book four sells in piddles.
Guess what? Even if every book does better than the prior book, you’ll wonder why they didn’t do even better!
You’re a tough boss!
When you started, you were planting lots and lots of seeds, not knowing which activities might result in sales. Most seeds come to harvest later on, maybe after you stopped doing the activity.
- Good salespeople prospect all the time, and try different things. So do good authors. That may be different things for different authors, but consider an “all of the above” strategy until you have the sales volume you want.
My friend Jason Matthews constantly re-tweaks his SEO keywords in his books, among other things.
Another friend, Kelly Abell, does lots of events and signings and lectures. As in, talks to groups of people who came just to hear her speak.
Another friend doesn’t do jack, he just keeps writing books. (He’s the one the rest of us hate.)
What you want to do is keep track of what you’re doing so that later on you can have an idea of what worked. That will help. Track results any way you can, so you don’t spend time or money on things that don’t work.
- Sometimes things fluctuate. Now, if your sales go to zero and stay there for six months, you really need to think about what you’re doing, but if you have an occasional blip, you need to let your emotional side know that it’s going to happen. Look for trends. Don’t freak out over any one little thing.
- Very rarely do two books sell the same. No two kids are alike, and your books are a lot your kids. They will sell in their own unique way.
Don’t get discouraged. Even Stephen King puts out a dud once in a while, but since his marking is so good you would never know it. Maybe if you had the insights on his sales numbers you would see certain books sell a lot better than others. He’s still a great writer.
Same with Steven Spielberg movies. Some are great; some are not. He’s still a great talent.
And in both cases, certain ones that didn’t do at the box office or with critics, you may have thought were terrific.
Don’t let your emotions run thing. Put your emotions in your books but try to keep them out of your book business.
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.