Small Sales = Big Disappointment? Nah

journeyNotDestinationWhen I self-published my first novel, Trouble Spots, last October, I did so with high hopes—well, hopes. Okay, a little. A glimmer, for sure. My feelings were mixed, truth be told. One the one hand, I thought, “Hey, I wrote this for fun and for love; I’ll publish for the same reasons, and to heck with sales.” On the other, the little gremlin in my soul that ever longs for glory was whispering “Oh, let this be enormous! Let it go viral! Let it be big in Japan!”

You can guess which happened. So far, sales have been slim, limited to friends and relations kind enough to give my maiden effort a chance. I am truly grateful to those folks, and I truly hope they enjoy the book, either as literature, a doorstop, or a handy sheaf of bacon-grease blotters. I’m not moving a lot of units, digital or dead tree.

Obnoxious Commercial Break: If you want to change the situation, check out the Kindle copy, the CreateSpace (paper) copy on, or visit other e-book stores like iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. Now, back to our show.

When I ask myself how I feel about the low sales, I still have mixed feelings: “Wow! I did it! That was so much fun! Let’s go for round two!” vs. “Nobody really likes my novel. My writing and storytelling are appallingly amateurish and not worth anybody’s time. I should give up now.”

I’m happy to report that, after a settling period, my feelings are ninety percent the former and only ten percent the latter. Sure, I’d like the world to pat me on the head by buying my fiction, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine. Here’s why the whole adventure was worthwhile:

  • I met the great folks in my writing group.
  • I became a better reader of novels.
  • I learned I can set a long-term goal and persevere until I reach it.
  • I learned that writing what you want, in the way you want, is joyful.
  • I got to spend time with my characters, who I love.
  • I gained increased confidence in my fiction-writing abilities.
  • I had boatloads of fun.

There’s a lot more I could do to increase sales, I guess—marketing-y stuff—but I just am not into making time for that right now. I have other priorities, like my family and my day job. Actions (or lack thereof) speak louder than words, so I guess there’s my certain answer: If I was really wrapped up in sales figures, I’d be spending lots more time trying to increase them. Making fiction for the sake of making fiction is still the way to go for me. That could change, but for now, I’m good with it.

Whatever conclusion you come to regarding the importance of sales, I hope your writing dreams come true.



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2 Replies to “Small Sales = Big Disappointment? Nah”

  1. I love the list of what you learned. That’s the real success, not the # of “units sold.” I have been sitting on a manuscript (non-fiction) for six months that, with maybe 30 hours, could be in some kind of readable shape. But I “can’t” finish….or choose not to. Everyday something else seems more urgent. So good on you for getting your writing out into the world. Until I do something different, I’m just another “bedroom virtuoso.”

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