The Question I Hate the Most – “How Many Books Did You Sell?”

Last Year I published a book. I also wrote the draft of another, which will hit the shelves sometime before April 30.

The questions I get the most are, “how many books did you sell?” and for those with less tact, “how much money did you make?”

My skin tingles like a sunburn in a hot shower. I clench my fists and take a deep breath. I imagine I would not mind that kind of question if I got to answer it like this: “I’m basically in the same league as J. K. Rowling, and yes, thank you for noticing my brand new $1,000 jeans.”

The honest truth is, I haven’t sold almost anything, and that’s completely normal for someone just entering the arena. Sure, every now and again, there’s a person for whom the stars align and a blessed mixture of luck, skill, talent, and timing all come together, but the numbers are astronomically low for that happening.

So I usually answer these kinds of questions by saying, “I just need to sell one more to reach my goal,” and then I smirk at them, hoping they can understand my dry sense of humor…or buy the book. Either one is fine, really.

Okay, this is the plan that people outside of self-publishing don’t understand:

To sell books, you need to give books away. To sell books and give them away means you need more than one published book. I’m not there yet, so my main marketing strategy hasn’t even taken off yet, and I’m now 2 years into the writing game.

the future

So my plan this year is two write the drafts of 2 books in a new trilogy. Once those books are finalized I will finally have what I need to begin my marketing campaign in earnest. I’ll have 4 books, 2 of which will be free.

This is a horrible plan if you want to make money off your first book right now (or even your second), but writing isn’t my fulltime job, so I am in no rush.

I’m not out for instant glory, money, or fame.

I’m in it for the happiness it brings me, the opportunity to be creative, and I’m in it for the long term.


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