Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sales, profits and time

If every author, self-published or not, were to tell the truth it would be no secret the dream of being a best selling author is universal. Best selling status of course is somewhat relative. A best selling history book probably does not sell the same number of copies as the latest block buster trashy vacation novel or spy thriller. It sells well in its niche.

The truth is most books are never best sellers. To be honest, for self-publishers, it is probably not wise to attempt to jump through the hoops the experts suggest jumping through to create a best seller. I will go one step further, it is very wise to not pay large sums of money for marketing programs designed to create best sellers such as the scheme to rig a brief peak in sales on Amazon to generate a quasi-truthful claim of Amazon best seller status.

Don't get me wrong. I would love to have a best seller, even a best seller in a niche market. But for me, a more successful long term strategy is to generate steady sales each month for each title I have in print. Adding titles to my catalog and working to build steady sales each month that are sustainable is more realistic and creates a steady cash flow for my business. I also believe that as my sales increase and my catalog expands, satisfied customers will purchase other books in my catalog, generating additional sales.

I do believe an author must work hard to promote and market his or her books in order to generate those initial sales that help generate word of mouth, and for authors who guide sales to Amazon, to engage the Long Tail of Amazon. Self-publishing expert Aaron Shepard estimates it takes one full year for a book to hit its stride on Amazon if it is a book worth buying.

Steady sales figures, sustained over time by a well thought out, sustainable marketing efforts preferably with low to no cost, should be a major goal for self-publishing authors. 

Patience helps too.