A week after I released Defiance of the Concorde, I took a peek at the sales reports… and was incredibly disheartened by the sad response of my work. It put me in a malaise that I’ve felt before; I’ve never had good sales of my books, no matter the subject or my efforts to promote it.
When I mentioned this on an author promotion site, I was asked by two posters what I did to market my book. After a few days to collect myself, I wrote:
So, what have I been doing? Well, there’s spending time on sci-fi related Facebook pages and web forums for the past 2 decades (presently a member of 18 FB pages), where I participate in discussions, occasionally start them, post articles from my blog, and occasionally promote a book where I am allowed;
There’s my blog, on which I discuss matters of science and science fiction, as well as my books, and which has been around for 15+ years in one form or another;
There’s been direct marketing of the Kestral series on FB, Twitter and my blog, starting with a rewrite and repackaging of the first book, which I offered to readers for free for 6 months;
There’s the Mailchimp newsletter, promoting the blog and the books, and in which I offered the free book with sign-ups, and encouraged my readers to forward to their friends (they did not);
There’s Read an Ebook Week, in which I have supported and created graphics for Rita Toews and the REBW website for over 5 years;
There’s the mailing list which I built during a Read an Ebook Week promotion, in which I offered free ebooks and built a group of free book downloaders of about 180, but who, by and large, never bought any for-sale books;
There’s at least half a dozen agent queries over the past 20 years, of which I’ve gotten 0 replies;
There’s the 5-year effort to cultivate more prominent names in SF to my blog and FB page, hoping to get some cross-promo or at least buzz going, as suggested by this site, 20BooksTo50K, and others (never got a one);
There’s the snazzy new covers, created by myself for the re-released books since I can’t afford pro artists;
There’s the rewrites and edits, done by myself (since I also can’t afford an editor);
There’s beta readers on two books, none of which generated comments to improve the book, and only one of which generated reviews on Amazon (which resulted in no sales);
There’s the contests entered, occasionally winning something, which likewise never created a buzz;
There were the 2 conventions that I attended as a speaker–likewise, no buzz;
And all the things that I couldn’t do beyond those listed above, because I have a day job and bills.
Hope that helps. (It obviously didn’t help me.)
After I wrote all this, I stopped, reread it, and realized I could only come to one conclusion: I am, and have always been, a completely incompetent independent author, because I cannot sell my books. After putting a few thousand hours in, conceptualizing, outlining, writing, editing and rewriting, proofing, formatting for production, cover creating, marketing, delivery to multiple channels, and promotion of my book… I was rewarded in my debut week with fewer sales than I have fingers on my hands. I was painfully reminded that I will never have the friends, connections, savvy, money, time or, hell, even the inclination to do all the things I’d apparently need to do to sell my books and make—honestly—a fraction of what I earn on my day job.
Of course, I’d come to that conclusion years ago… this was not news. It simply is what it is. But unlike past realizations, I’ve finally come to accept it.
So what now, after releasing another novel that has, as usual, utterly failed as a product? Well, you can assume there won’t be any more novels. You can also assume that any plans I had to update and re-release any existing novels are now off.
But you can also assume I’ve come to these decisions before. And in the past, I’ve reversed these decisions after a time. I’ve gotten over my malaise. I’ve kept believing next time would be different. Why? Because I’m a moron.
So there’s probably nothing to worry about. I’ll probably get over it and write another book.
Yeah. Probably. Eventually.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll make more sales than I can count on two hands. I may even get to use my thumbs.