One of the major problems with being a writer is that you don’t have a pulse on what’s happening in the real world. This is true whether you’re traditionally or indie published. When you write, you spend all of your time by yourself. It’s a little maddening really.
If you’re traditionally published, you won’t have control over your own book or even have accurate numbers as to how it’s doing because of returns, accounting issues, a bad and confusing business model, and so on. If you’re indie published, you’ll obsess over your cover, sales, marketing, and what the other guy is doing.
When I let people know I have a book, I tell them what it’s about and the price. Here are some things they do and don’t say.
1. “It’s only THAT much?”
When I tell people my book is $4.99, they’re shocked at how cheap it is even though I tell them that it’s only available as an ebook.
They’re probably shocked it’s less than $5 because the Big Six constantly prices their ebooks for at least $9.99, but more often between $12.99 and $14.99. $5 is a steal compared that. Also, $5 is still less than a paperback and probably a cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but I hear people always bring up this analogy.
But if I were to listen to the forums and other writers, I’m either underpricing or overpricing myself. Their arguments are “X worked for this person so you should try that” or “everyone else is pricing their books at X.”
It’s terrible advice to do something because everyone else is doing it unless you understand the reasons why. This is writing. There is no set thing. Everyone has different stories of how they got published anyway. If that’s not bad enough, people who are successful have no idea why. So they keep saying it’s luck. With that in mind, why would you want to mindlessly copy them?
2. “You sold HOW many?”
While I haven’t given exact numbers either here or in person, I do tell people I sold a few hundred copies. They’re always impressed by that amount. To make a living off it, I would need to sell A LOT more. I’m more curious as to how many I’ll have sold when my book’s been out a year. I’ll list the exact numbers then.
But if I were to listen to other writers, I either sold a lot or very little. Those that constantly post their huge amount of numbers seem to be doing nothing but dickwaving. Yes, your dick is bigger than mine. I’m not sure how always posting your great numbers is helpful. The fact is the majority of authors won’t reach those numbers. Some could say it’s inspirational, but I believe it gives people false hope. Hope is the most dangerous thing in the world as it tends to blind people. Do you post it to help people or to stroke your ego? We’re all writers so we have big egos. At least, I know I do.
I’m probably somewhere in the middle when it comes to my sales. I don’t think I’m doing too bad for someone with no audience, no platform, and only one book. And it’s not like I’m always marketing it either.
I like to look at it much like Dean Wesley Smith’s way. He doesn’t talk about big numbers and spends more time on the business aspect of writing. To him, it’s write something, publish it, forget about it, and work on something else.
That 1% that everyone currently hates for no discernible or logical reason is used to thinking that way. Them and people who are well off but don’t quite reach those heights, tend to get a lot of their money from passive income or portfolio income. Most of us live from paycheck to paycheck and don’t understand that.
Indie writers are far more obsessed with their sales than traditionally published writers. Maybe having up to date sales figures is not a good thing. There’s even an entire site about Why Is My Book Not Selling?
With my royalties, I can currently pay for one round of editing. I’m still in the red, but as long as my sales can partially cover my costs, I’m good. I’d be happy when they can completely cover them. I would love to sell more and never have to work a regular job again, but it’s not a race. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone else.
3. “Who published you?”
There’s a question that’s NOT asked. People don’t care or know about publishers yet for some reason, publishers think they’re important. There are very few things where publishers are actually known and have become a brand like Marvel and DC or Nintendo and Microsoft, but no one cares who publishes a book.
But if I were to listen to writers, who publishes you is very important. It’s some kind of weird validation instead of being validated by good reviews, fan mail, or my favorite, money deposited into an account. There are writers on Twitter that list who they’re published by and I can’t help but wonder why? That’s a waste of a limited bio page.
Even if I had signed with a traditional publisher or do in the future, I could care less about who they are. I only care for what type of business they run and if it’s efficient, what they could do for me, what rights they want, and what percentage they offer. I don’t even care about an advance as that’s the least important thing.
Those are the three major things that seem to come up in the writing community. I have to remember that as useful and insightful as some of the people are, it’s a small world. They’re not any indication of regular people or the book buying public. So I keep that in mind while I read blogs and forum posts, or listen to panels and interviews.
And like the gunslinger I am, I just kind of do my own thing.