If you went up to someone on a street corner and asked them, 'Hey, Buddy, would you like to buy my book?' and they did, you would probably go up to a lot of people on streetcorners and ask them, wouldn't you?
Since getting on the internet a little over three years ago, I’ve learned so much that my head bulges at the seams.
While I go off on a virtual journey for my own pleasure once in a while, for the most part my reading is about writing, editing, publishing, great authors, and other industry-related material. In three years of self-directed cruising the internet, you can sure get a lot of education.
Yet, even now, I still can’t say for sure what sells a book.
Somebody just wanted it, for all I can figure. Today was a case in point. I sold a copy of ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery,’ on Amazon. This earns a couple of bucks in royalties.
Today I was editing ‘Time-Storm on A-4,’ my new science fiction novel. That seems unlikely to have sold a book. I took an older poem from my poetry blog, http://badpoetsclub.blogspot.com/ and posted it on Digg, Reddit, and on Twitter. This post received exactly five page hits. This seems unlikely to have sold a book.
I spent some time in my e-mail inbox, following back new Twitter followers. Did one of them buy my book? And if so, why? I’m a perfect stranger, although better-looking than most.
I spent a few minutes on Createspace. I checked ‘The Shape-Shifters’ using the digital previewer, and then ordered a proof copy. What in the heck did this have to do with selling a book?
Commenting on blogs and websites is always good for generating some traffic, especially if your comment is one of the first ones. I commented on ‘The Beginning Writer,’ and on a ‘Stadia Studio’ post about intuitive marketing. Did this sell a book? It’s as likely as any other possibility.
I went into Kindle Boards, to the Writers Café, and answered questions. Shameless self-promotion is frowned upon. Such posts will be deleted, although you can have a ‘signature,’ which consists of product images and embedded links. Did this sell a book? Do other writers buy books, or do readers really care to read posts on Kindle Boards? Would that sell a book? No one knows.
I posted a link to the book on Twitter today, did that sell the book? It’s a Sunday, lots of people are home. It’s also gardening season. The weather was beautiful. I posted other things on Twitter today, links which I thought my audience or followers, who are not all writers, would find interesting, valuable, or relevant. Did that sell the book?
Today I uninstalled some add-ons from my computer. It seems highly unlikely that this would sell a book. I made hamburgers for lunch. I went for a bike ride. This did not sell any books. Right? It kept me alive, and I got some fresh air and exercise. Fresh air and exercise do not sell many books. They would appear to be completely unconnected.
The real answer, although there is no ‘of course’ about it, is that it all goes towards the selling of a book. That’s because I do similar things every day. I enjoy what I am doing, and that shows. Over time, I have gotten better at it and more comfortable in the promoting of it. My audience has grown. And I guess they are not all writers. But a writer is first and foremost a reader, and not just any reader.
They are analytic readers. They listen well, Some of them know more about my personal circumstances. Some of them like to give something back once in a while, and why not? To write well, to have the opportunity in a free society to express our thoughts, is a privilege. Did one of them buy my book? It’s not the most likely scenario, but it is barely possible. Such thoughtful acts are rare in this world.
I still have no idea exactly which factor sold that book. It is a whole cloth, woven of fine threads. It is cumulative over time—just like my learning curve as a writer, an editor, a publisher, and quite frankly a human being.
A professional is someone who has mastered his craft. He has also mastered himself. While I may have some way to go on both aspects of that concept, is this what sells a book?
Harping on sales all the time is not what sells a book. Blogging about making POD paperbacks, or editing for style, or an industry in transition probably doesn’t sell too many books.
It is all part of a larger picture. Ultimately someone bought that book, like Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Mt. Everest, ‘Because it is there.’
That’s what sold that book—it was there. And that book is there because I put it there.
It may be as simple as that.