“So How Many Books Have You Sold?” Why Does That Question Make Me Tense?

Before I published The Flying Burgowski, the question that used to tense me up was “So, are you published?” Now that I’m an Official Author, this is the question that clenches my gut.

“So how many books have you sold?”

Insecurity? That’s just a guess. Like, there’s this Standard of Authorness out there, some random number of units sold, and I’m pretty sure I don’t measure up. Which means…uh-oh…maybe it was all a dream? My hard work doesn’t really count?

My response to this question has been to willfully turn my back on all those handy stats offered by my publishing service. Oh, I could answer that question if I needed to. But I prefer to stay blissfully ignorant.

“I think I’ve sold one to all my friends,” I reply cheerfully. “Luckily I have a lot of friends.”

I’m not a total baby. Of course I set goals for myself: be published by ___, have sold ___ copies by ____. I know I’m roughly on that track–definitely for time, less definitely for number. Turns out that’s enough for me.

for blog

Could I be doing more marketing? Couldn’t everybody? But only at the expense of all the other things we do in our lives. YES, I’m going to invite my community to a book launch party for The Flying Burgowski Book Two, Headwinds, with a dramatic reading and cookies. YES, I’m going to contact the same bookstores and libraries and schools–and add some new ones to the list. YES, I’m going to use the heck out of social media (at least my version of it: this blog, Facebook, and the occasional tweet).


 I wanted to write a story. I did. Then I wanted people to read it. They are. Lucky for me, I never counted on making money from this enterprise. Therefore: I declare victory and move on…

…to Book Three.

Feel fee to weigh in here if you think I need counseling. I will listen gratefully. Just please don’t ask me how many books I’ve sold!

6 thoughts on ““So How Many Books Have You Sold?” Why Does That Question Make Me Tense?

  1. I have no idea how many I’ve sold, either! My educational titles are done freelance, so sales don’t affect my income anyway (I do get pretty excited when people tell me they’ve found them in libraries, though). As far as my trade books, I guess I’ll find out at some point. But as long as I can afford to keep writing, the hard data is less important.

  2. Standard of Authorness…*snicker*…

    I don’t worry about the stats too much either. Everyone needs to put some effort into marketing, of course, but to a great extent, sales come down to luck and genre. And books in the juvenile genres sell way less than adult books. While I don’t dwell on those numbers, I am currently experimenting in a genre outside my usual MG. It IS still nice to be paid. 🙂

  3. Oh, btw, my number one best marketing strategy to date (though others have disagreed with me) is to set book one to free. I hook ’em and get way more readers who pick up the next book(s) than who would take a chance on paying for the first one.

    • Yup, sometimes you get readers who don’t necessarily read in or enjoy or understand the genre who pick it up anyway because it’s free and then give crappy ratings. I’ve had a few of those. But I’ve gotten more “What a pleasant suprise…usually free books suck” type comments.

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