Lately it seems there’s a lot of talk about selling books. How can I sell more? How can I get noticed in a sea of other authors? At what point can I quit my job and make a living writing? What do I do when my sales drop? What if I have to go back to work?
Last time I posted a question on this blog asking what kind of posts authors wanted to read, most people wanted to know how to sell books. It’s why I hesitated to ask the question again. I have been trying to come up with blog post ideas, but my mind keeps coming up blank because I have no magic answer on how to sell books. I wish I did, but I don’t. And the truth is, you might be making money today, but that doesn’t mean you’ll make it tomorrow. That is true with any job. No matter how secure a job seems, it’s really an illusion. Self-employed people are just more aware of this fact than others.
If anyone has a post they’d like to read that doesn’t involve how to increase sales, please comment below. I would love to get some fresh, new ideas.
But to address this issue of selling books, the truth is, I don’t know how you can increase sales. There are strategies that are preached all over the Internet already by authors who sell much more than I do, so I don’t feel like I have anything new to add.
Some authors have said their sales have been taking a hit. Mine have, too. I’d say the drop has been close to half. A very smart author friend of mine told me a year ago that the bubble we’ve seen in this market (at least in the United States) will climax and start dropping. She then said there will be a leveling point where things will become more stable. When or how long this all happens she didn’t know, but how could she? We’ll only really know years from now when this is all history.
So what does this all boil down to?
The only constant we have, as writers, is passion for our work. This is something that doesn’t sell books. It only writes them. It can’t make someone find your book, take an interest in it, and tell others about it. All it can do is make writing fun.
Can lack of sales hamper the passion? Of course. Can bad reviews hamper the passion? Absolutely. But do all these external sources have to kill our passion? Not if we don’t let it.
The good news is that passion for what we write is one thing we have full control over.
So I guess my post today is an encouragement. It’s not a promise that if you write more books, sales will come. I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m just trying to be realistic. The more books there are, the harder it will be to get noticed. That’s common sense. And I’m seeing a lot of good quality books being published. Great covers, great editing, and great content. There’s a lot of talent out there. (Before someone says there’s a lot of garbage, it’s getting a lot easier to find the quality books because more authors entering the market are taking this seriously.) Compared to when I started with ebooks in 2009, there is a lot more professional books being self-published than ever before. It amazes me, and that is in a good way. It’s given a lot of respectability to what we do.
And I guess what I’d like to say is that it might be more important to focus on the passion in our work than in things we can’t control.
I know it can be hard to get back to that place where you wake up in the morning eager to get some writing in. I don’t know how to help anyone get there. All I know is that I had to get beyond the stress of sales rankings, sales, money, and what people think of my books to get my full passion back. Passion is something that comes from within. Whatever you can do to feed your creative spirit is worth doing. Over and over, I hear authors say they write because they have to. It’s ingrained in them. That’s called passion. Nurture it. Give it room to grow.
I’ve considered writing books that I believed were wildly popular. I even tried to write a couple. But my heart wasn’t in them, so I had to stop. This year I decided I would focus only what I enjoyed, and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel. I’m energized again. I have returned to the days when I first discovered I enjoyed writing. I don’t know about anyone else, but that period of my writing life was the easiest time I ever had in writing a book. I didn’t worry about sales or what others thought. I only knew I was having fun finding out what would happen next in the story. That’s the kind of passion I’m talking about.
Life is short. Enjoy the time you have while you have it.