Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Few Words of Encouragement

I'm going to preface my monthly numbers post by offering a few words of encouragement. (If you've been playing the indie game long enough, this isn't anything you haven't heard before.)

First, ebooks are forever.

Second, you never know which ebook you publish will take off. 
Keep writing them. Lots of them.

Third, you never know when an ebook will 
come back around and surprise you.

I guess (in some ways) I'm still stuck in a traditional publishing mentality: publish a book, see a surge the 1-4 months after it releases, watch it fizzle. By last fall, I was bracing myself for a plateau—to hit that monthly "mark" I could maybe expect to coast at "from this point on." 

Data proves: that's not happening.

Because it DOESN'T happen—not when you have an ebook that's "forever."

Yes, there have been some great months, there have been some slower months, but the truth is: there's no way to predict what you will sell from month to month, or when you'll see a surge or a dip.

Proof in Figure A

See the highs? See the lows? Is there a trend? Meh. It's probably too soon to tell. If we're going by last year's data, I can maybe expect a lull during the fall, but I also didn't anticipate having the highest Cross My Heart sales month ever a year and four months AFTER the book released (July 2012).

If this was a traditional book (based on the traditional model) I would have had about three months after the release of Cross My Heart to make an impact. If it didn't resonate, the books would have been shipped back to the publisher, and I would've been written off. Bookstores have to make room for those new releases, right? They have to make a profit, too.

But what if that doesn't happen? What if a book hits stores before its "time"? What if a particular story doesn't hit that tipping point until 6-9 months (to a year) after it releases?

Thank goodness we have online booksellers, because I doubt the brick and mortar stores are willing to carry a book that's not selling well six months after the release—not with every major publisher pushing "The Next Twilight" or "The Next Hunger Games" onto the floor. 

Anyway, it makes me kind of sad for all of those novels with potential that were shipped back to the warehouse (or stripped) before they were able to find the right readers.

It takes time to build an audience, so if you've released a book and the "sales" aren't there yet (and I use that term loosely, since "sales success" means something different to each of us): hang in there. Don't give up. Write that second book. Because honestly? There's no way to know where you'll be a year and four months after your release. 

The numbers may surprise you.

Marathon, not a sprint.

Marathon, not a sprint.

That is all!


P.S. I'm posting July numbers on Friday.

By the way, does anyone still care for these numbers posts? I promised when I first started I would be as transparent as possible. At the time, a lot of indies were posting sales numbers. Are people still doing this? Are the numbers surprising? Enlightening? Inspiring? If it's getting old/annoying, let me know.

And always, if you have a numbers post, feel free to send me the link. I love to see how others are faring. :)