Six months after my books went live in amazon I can honestly say that they haven’t sold well. Seeing how I am a writer, not a publicist, this is not entirely unexpected and I had originally thought I would let this particular milestone slip by unnoticed. That would have been the logical thing to do (we tend to celebrate our successes, not our failures), but the thing is that the fact that my books haven’t sold made me think about what this ‘failure’ means and to try to examine it more objectively… and then I decided that that was something that might actually be worth sharing in a world of ever-cheerful, self-promoting, self-published authors.
The first thing I did was reread my books, being as objective as I could. Over all I found them to be good, though the perfectionist in me did spot a couple minor details (and I also had help in that regard from another perfectionist). Still I suspect that the main problem has to do with something I’ve always known was likely to be a bit of an issue: the fact that they all fall into what amounts to a no-man’s land in term of the market. Now I admit that for a moment there I was tempted to go back and make a few minor changes and kill a couple of typos that had managed to slip past me but in the end I decided against it. The books are as good as I could make them when I wrote them, and the whole point of publishing was precisely to put an end to the editing process (no, I’m not going back because of a missing apostrophe here and there, and while I hate the fact that there are these minor issues the truth is that I don’t think they are the reason why the books aren’t selling).
After that I decided to look at my marketing efforts. Those, I have to admit, have been a total and unmitigated disaster… or they would have been if there had been any, but the truth is that other than this blog I really haven’t done much to get the word out that my books exist, and to be honest I don’t really have more of a clue when it comes to promoting my blog than I do when it comes to promoting my books. Still I could, and probably should, have worked to overcome that shortcoming, so that particular failure is definitely on me and it is a failure that I suspect is more relevant when it comes to the lack of sales than the fact that the books are not easily categorized, or the fact that a couple of apostrophes happen to be missing .
That brought me to my third and final question: what can I do to turn things around and is it worth it? Well, I still believe in my books, and I won’t deny that I would love for them to sell, but at the same time I am who I am, I know that the chances that one of my books will ever make it big are slim to none, and no matter how I look at it. In addition to that there is the fact that the day has only twenty-four hours (and to make matters worse sleep insists on claiming a good chunk of those). That is something I cannot change and that in turn means that while promoting my books more actively might make some sort of difference, I have to choose between writing and promoting. I have to choose between doing something I love and doing something I hate… and I have to make that choice knowing that chances are that even if I were to choose to focus on what I hate it still wouldn’t have much of an impact, so, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that I am going to keep doing what I have been doing these past six months: writing, blogging in my spare time (after all blogging is writing) and accepting that the price I will have to pay for that choice is a lack of commercial success. I may not like it, but I can live with that because the bottom line is that my books are my babies, and while I would love to see them do well in the world I like them just the way they are and I wouldn’t change them for that world.