It is disturbing that the average book sales are only 200 copies. Rather than looking at this as a negative, try looking at it as a positive.
Fact: Most of the authors/writers I consult do not treat their writing as a business. It’s more of a hobby. There is nothing wrong with this except that if you decide you really want to sell your book, you have to treat it like a business.
Here’s a good illustration to think about:
Hobby Lobby sells crafts. No one would doubt that they are a business. They have brick and mortar stores, warehouses full of products, trucks to deliver, and employees. They didn’t just happen.
They did feasibility studies (where to build their stores), competitive analysis’ to determine who their competitors are, research to determine what products to sell (target market), return on investment (ROI) studies, advertised (ongoing), and much more (legalities, contractors, engineers, product sources).
It took years and a huge amount of capital to get where they are.
Compare this with those who make crafts as a hobby and go to craft fairs. They invest a small fee (usually less than $100) and present their goods with hundreds of others and hope for the best.
Most start out with a vision of success, but end up hoping to break even (recover the fee). I doubt most of them count the cost of materials, time, and gas.
In other words, most do not consider it a real business.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this, but you have to call it what it is–a hobby.
Many authors tell me they don’t care if they sell a lot of books or not. Their fulfillment is finishing and printing a book. That’s okay, too.
There is no way of separating these authors from the stats so 200 or less book sales, per author, makes sense.
BUT! If it’s more than a hobby to you; if you really want to sell books in significant amounts; if you want to become a speaker; if you want to be profitable–well–you have to treat it like a business.
Many authors still think that success is having their book published traditionally. This is why the rejection rate is so high–publishers don’t take chances on new writers very often. Especially today.
Publishers demand a platform. They demand you be branded. They publish the best sellers, and today, they scan for the successful self-publishers and contract them.
It’s a fast changing industry.
Then there are the, what used to be called, vanity presses. They love your manuscript. They will publish it for $4,000 and up. They talk about marketing, but they mean book signings. You are their customer. They sell the books to you and you have to do the marketing and sales.
I read a piece of correspondence to one author from a publishing company who complained about their marketing. They said (paraphrased) that people look for books that are already selling so you (the author) should purchase lots of books from us to make it look like your book is selling.
In another communication they told the author that authors are their best customers. Oh, and by the way, there was a minimum purchase amount required. The more he bought, the lower the price.
The website they built for him brought the buyers back to them for sales–not to the author.
This is why I do what I do. I help authors get the most for their money; to treat their writing as a business; to study their target market; to have a website that will attract readers; to promote themselves and their work and much more.
Don’t let the industry stats discourage you. Be grateful that you know where the pitfalls are so you can work around them.
If you want to have a hobby, by all means do so.
If you want to sell books and make writing a career–make it your business.
Change something today to make your tomorrow better.
Literary Strategist, LLC