This week I am sharing another installment of Supporting Aspiring Writers by focusing on the touchy subject of book sales. This is a super sensitive topic for most authors, be they fairly well established or just starting out. Often sales are shrouded in a cloud of secrecy since many authors are shy about revealing how well they are doing commecially.
Frankly for me it is also quite an awkward topic since I am neither here nor there when it comes to success as a writer. I am certainly not an established author with a truckload of fans, however, I have managed to sell a “few” books. Enough as they say to pay for a few beers (or cafe lattes). In fact, I have been fortunate enough to have fairly consistent (small time) sales in the past two years or so, which seems to be trending in the right direction.
So let me give you the inside scoop on the sales side for my books. So far of the three books I have published (Squash Diary: The Story of How Squash Saved My Life, Walking in Footsteps of Promise and Fresh Ereba: A Collection of Caribbean Bedtime Stories for Children) only one book, Fresh Ereba has garnered non-negligible, steady sales in some markets (mainly the UK and the US). So far, excluding free downloads of the Kindle version of Fresh Ereba (which tally in the low hundreds), I have sold 43 paperback copies on Amazon UK and 14 on Amazon US, over the past 2 years (corresponding to just over 2 sales per month on average). In addition, to Amazon I do have other sales channels through Lulu.com via multiple book distributors, where I first self-published Fresh Ereba, however the overwhelming majority of sales (>90%) have come through markets on Amazon. That indeed a reflection of how dominant Amazon is as a book retailer!
I know that these numbers sounds like peanuts (and they certainly are compared to well-known writers), but the harsh reality is that as an unknown, self-published author it is hard to break through. Most books, I’m afraid do not even garner one sale in their lifetime or if they are lucky a handful of sales from close friends and family members of the author. So the long story short is that it is tough out there in the real literary world. I share this not to discourage aspiring authors from embarking on this noble pursuit, but rather to support you in setting realistic expectations after you publish your first book. It is very unlikely that you will make it big on your forst book. However, if you write more books this will substantially increase your chances of making good revenue (even if you don’t hit the best sellers list).
I will come back to this topic of book sales in a future blogpost, after I launch my upcoming historical fiction novel, Children of the Ocean God. I am curious to see how it will be accepted in the market and if it will indeed give my book sales a much-desired boost. Till then, I will keep my eye on the ledger and the axe to the grindstone!
I hope this post has given you some useful insight into the fun and exciting underworld of writing. If you have feedback or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Also please don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list if you would like to receive my latest writing updates.