New Goals and Lessons Learned
Well, it’s a new year, and with a new year always comes the refreshed optimism of new possibilities. Resolutions are made. Goals are set. I don’t make resolutions, but I do set goals for myself, which are always related to writing and publishing.
In fact, I don’t think I ever set yearly goals for myself until I started writing. Or maybe I just never cared about my previous goals enough to remember them. My goals aren’t exactly massive ones—it’s usually surrounding finishing a certain manuscript or publishing a certain book. So far, I’ve achieved every yearly goal I’ve set for myself (I think. I really need to start writing them down…), which is cool in its own right, even if they are modest. But this year… well, let’s just say it’s my most ambitious yet.
Here’s what I’m aiming to achieve in 2016:
- Publish A Shadowed Spirit. Right now, the timeline is to release it in May, with pre-orders happening in April, but the month in question isn’t really part of the goal. Just to publish it is.
- Finish the first draft for the third novel in the Tree and Tower series (A Shadowed Spirit is #2 for those who don’t know).
- Finish Hazel and Holly for the blog.
- Sell more books this year than I did last year.
That last one is the one that makes me nervous, probably because it’s the one I have the least control over. Also because last year was a banner year for Double Beast Publishing in terms of sales. Woohoo! Not that we sold massive amounts, mind you. But we went from selling less than a hundred books in 2014 to almost 1000 in 2015. This was due to running a number of promotions (for The Thirteenth Tower) throughout the year, with the most notable being from BookBub, which I count as our first successful promotion–in that we turned a profit–and which also contributed to a significant chunk of the overall books sold.
And while the book sales are great in and of themselves, this whole thing taught me a rather valuable lesson: A book won’t sell if no one sees it.
Thank you, Captain Obvious
I know, I know, it’s painfully obvious, right? It seems like it should be, but I don’t think I truly came to understand that concept until last year.
For me, having a book not selling makes me question a number of things. Is the cover not good enough? Is the back description lackluster? Is the book not interesting to readers? Is the price too high/low? Am I a crappy writer?
Some of these issues may indeed impact sales, but if no one sees the book in the first place, then none of it matters anyway. Because, here’s the thing: three months after the BookBub promotion–and the book back at full price–we’re still seeing a trickle of sales that just weren’t there before. The promotion was enough to get a bump in Amazon’s algorithms it seems, which means readers are finding the book easier than they were before. Nothing has changed as far as the book is concerned other than its visibility.
If you build it, they will come. Or not.
I think one of the greatest disservices I’ve seen in regards to authors and book sales is the notion of “if a book is good enough, readers will find it.” It clings to the notion that word of mouth alone will be enough to sell books. It’s a notion to which I will politely reply: Bullshit.
Now, I’m not knocking word of mouth. Word of mouth can be powerful. Word of mouth can definitely sell books. Anyone who reads a story of mine and then tells a friend about it or writes a review, you have my eternal gratitude. The issue I take is that for those of us who don’t write that ultra-popular book that everyone will rave about should somehow accept that our books aren’t good enough. Or that we don’t need to take responsibility for getting our books into the hands of readers.
Finding my people
There is a niche for my books, filled with people who will love what I write. I’m starting to find some of those people, and it’s amazing. But it means I need to work a little bit harder in making sure I continue to find those people, and that they find me. I’m still working on it and I definitely don’t have it figured out. I’m hoping I can make progress in that regard this year.
So… yeah, that’s going to be my most challenging goal for 2016–selling more than a thousand books. I’m honestly not sure I can meet this goal, but I’m definitely going to give it my very best try.
What about you? Do you have any goals or resolutions for the New Year? Are you daunted by any of them?