I considered titling this post “How to Manage Your Expectations.” But, let’s be honest, that sounds too clinical. When sales aren’t meeting your goals, you and I are anything but clinical. “Help! My Book and I Are Failures” captures the panic a little better, don’t you think?
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you had a stellar release week for your indie debut. Ever since, however, you’re averaging one to four sales a week, and doubt creeps in. What if those sales dry up too? What if you don’t recoup your initial investment before book two? In fact, should you even bother with book two at this rate?
At this point, you will be tempted to take advantage of the immediacy indie publishing allows. You can lower your pricing and change your Amazon or Barnes & Noble categories in less than five minutes. You can set up a Goodreads giveaway or buy a BookBub ad. Flood your Twitter or Facebook feed with ads. Maybe all of the above in the same weekend. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
In that moment, I beg you (and myself) to take a breath. Seriously. Okay, maybe another. Are you still hyperventilating? (Me either.) Now, what do we need to do?
First, remind yourself of the truth. You are not a failure because your first week, month, or quarter sales did not meet expectations. Most debut indie authors don’t see steady sales for seven-twelve months. More importantly, debut authors don’t gain fans (readers who love an author and tell others about said author) until they have multiple books out. Did you write a great book, hire/swap services with an experienced editor, and put together an attractive thumbnail cover, intriguing description, and compelling sample chapters? Then you are on the right track.
Second, review your goals, creative plan, and business plan. This has proved the most helpful for me. Why? Because only a minority of my goals have to do with finances and those that do are set out at one, three, and five year intervals. I’m on target with my creative goals and the financial ones? Well, I still have ten months before I hit that first threshold. You’ve started a business. It takes time to turn a profit. You made plans with this in mind; work your plans.
Now, with a fixed perspective, look at your marketing plan for the next one to three months. This is not the time to throw your plan out the window. It is, rather, time to ask how you might need to adjust:
- What is producing sales? Do more of that.
- What isn't working? Set a deadline for when you’ll cut back on that item if it doesn't start performing.
- What might you want to add? Consider a new component to your marketing efforts.
And whatever you do, keep writing.
Help! My book's a failure. @CharityTinnin discusses disappointment & unmet expectations on Indie Tuesday #indiepub
When you feel like a self-publishing failure. #IndieTuesday with @CharityTinnin via @EdieMelson #indiepub
Charity Tinnin’s fascination with dystopian lit began in high school, so it's no surprise that her debut novel, Haunted, would be a YA dystopian. Now, she mentors high school students, works as a freelance editor, and lives in the foothills of North Carolina. When she’s not editing for a client or working on the State v. Seforé series, she spends her time reading YA and discussing the merits of fictional heroes online. Speaking of the Internet, Charity loves to talk about YA lit, TV, and State v. Seforé. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website to continue the conversation.