If you’ve been reading my stuff lately, you’ve seen that I have a small obsession with this podcast called The Bestseller Experiment. I love a good writerly podcast and listen to many, but this one, well, there’s just something about the hosts – The Two Marks – that sets this one apart. They are very, very funny. They are immensely encouraging. They are profoundly transparent. And they are incredibly knowledgeable. (How’s that for a bunch of adverbs?)
The show began with a goal, get their book Back to Reality on a bestseller’s list. They set the goal, and they worked to it publicly on the show. Then, that goal done, they started a new one, to sell 10,000 copies of the book by the Glastonbury music festival, and when they missed that goal, they explained what they had done, what had worked, what hadn’t, and what they’d learned – all out in the open for everyone to see. It was a beautiful thing.
Now, one of the Marks, Mark Stay, has launched a new goal – to see 1,000 copies of his book The End of Magic by year’s end. I love this goal – it’s manageable but ambitious, and it’s measurable.
In fact, I loved it so much, that I’ve taken on a goal of my own. More on that in a minute.
The Power of a Public Declaration
I’ve talked a lot about goals here – The Three Writing Tools I Believe In Most – because I am a big believer in the way they help motivate us and give us ways to celebrate when we reach them. But The Two Marks have also helped me buy in to goals in an even deeper way. They encourage people to make public declarations of their goals, and while I do that as part and parcel of this public presence I have as a writer, I haven’t ever been very brave in my goal-setting in one particular area – sales.
I talk about my writing goals a lot – the dates when I want to publish books, the daily word count goals I have for particular projects, my participation in CampNaNoWriMo (I’m on track to finish – Yes!!) – but sales goals have always been too scary, too big, too beyond my control for me to feel good about setting them publicly.
But I realize that because I’ve been scared to do it publicly, I haven’t even done it privately. I’ve been working hard to increase my book sales, and I’m seeing results. But I’m not seeing the kind of results I might if I put a goal to them. So here I am doing that.
But First, A Word on Sales
I utterly and completely believe the single most important element of the writing life is writing. Writing is what feeds us. Writing is what we can control – until a pesky imaginary friend takes control of our story concept. Writing is, at heart, the reason we write. Period.
Anything else is bonus. Always.
But making money from writing, that’s a reasonable goal. It’s even possible to make a full-time living at it if you’re willing to write to market. And let me be clear here – there is NO SHAME in writing books people want to buy and read, not a bit of shame for wanting to be paid for our work. That lie is a big one in the creative community, and it infuriates me because, after all, we don’t think mechanics or lawyers or schoolteachers (okay, maybe we do think this a little about schoolteachers, which is way we pay them abominably) should work for free. The same applies to writing.
So when I suggest setting goals for book sales or writing income in general I do that with full awareness of two things:
- It is completely good and lovely and beautiful to write simply for the joy of it, to write as a hobby, to write as a side income, to write as a business.
- The writing always has to come first because it is what feeds us and because to sell our writing it has to be good, as good as we can make it.
My Sales Goal for the Rest of 2019
All that preamble established, here’s my sales goal for the rest of 2019:
I will sell 1,000 copies of Love Letters to Writers by 11:59pm EST on December 31, 2019.
This goal is to have 1,000 copies sold in 2019 as a whole, so I’ve got some baseline figures to work from. Thus far, I have sold:
- 134 copies of the book on Amazon.
- 5 copies through Draft2Digital
- 2 copies through IngramSpark
- 8 copies direct through my website and events
So I’ve had 149 sales so far. I’m 14.95 of the way there.
I’m going to be using all the things I know – my newsletter, ads (particular on BookBub to see if I can’t get those sales through Draft2Digital up), newsletter swaps, requests to independent bookstores, and anything else I can come up with. And of course, I”ll keep you posted.
Now, your turn – would you like to set a goal for 2019? If so, comment below or email me at andi_at_andilit.com and let me know. I’d love to cheer you on.
Love Letters to Writers: Volume II will be out this fall. Stay tuned.