Setting a rational sales goal, month to month, isn’t all that difficult. Making it happen isn’t all that difficult either, since it’s a rational goal. Here at Long Cool One Books, over the last three months, we’ve seen sales increases of ten percent or greater. It’s a kind of exponential growth, but like interest rates, whether you owe money, or you`re earning money on an investment, sales increases are compounded upon the previous month’s sales increase.
It is analogous and so the math works just fine.
Let’s assume you sold 100 books in December 2014. A ten percent increase would translate into 110 books as of January 31. That`s a straightforward, ten percent sales increase. By the end of February, you should be up to 121. It’s not ten more books a month, but ten percent more books per month. This results in sales of 132-point-something by March. There is a factor, and you can multiply Month One sales by that factor to project what sales might be in Month Twelve, if in fact you meet your sales goals, month-by-month, for an entire year.
The factor, using simple interest compounding techniques as a substitute for sales compounding, is 2.138428377. Simply put, if you can meet your ten percent sales-increase goal, month on month for twelve months, then you will be selling 213.8 books the next January for every 100 books you are selling this January. Ten percent increases are a form of exponential growth.
The math is pretty simple and here`s another link.
“Each week, her goal was to drop time in her races--not win, but beat her own personal best. Sometimes she only cut one-tenth of a second from her previous performance, but it was an improvement nonetheless and worth celebrating.”
This is exactly what we`re trying to do. This is why I go swimming, and try to see how far I can go. This is also why by the end of the season I can go farther than in the beginning of the season—I`m in training, and I`m keeping track accurately, and I`m trying to beat my personal best.
So our goal here for the month of September isn`t so much to attract a literary agent. Our goal here is not to make the New York Times Bestseller List. We know very well we`re not likely to release a novel and sell 100,000 copies. We`re unknown, but we`re also independent.
It is our greatest strength.
We don`t give a shit about any of that. What we want to do is to take last month`s (August, 2015), sales total and increase it by ten percent. That`s all, ladies and gentlemen. That`s all, ladies and gentlemen, month after month. We just have to keep going—that`s all.
In July, we sold 362 books. In August, 395 books. For September, we`re hoping for about 450 book sales across a bunch of platforms, all of which have strengths and weaknesses, and which must be treated on an individual basis. It is true, that a traditional publisher wouldn`t be interested in these kinds of numbers. They have a long tooth-to-tail ratio. For every book I sell, they would have to sell a thousand, maybe even ten thousand books just to break even.
They are no better at business than you or I.
The thing is, after twenty years on a disability pension, I really can`t succumb to that sense of entitlement and turn my nose up at a couple of hundred books a month. Especially since I`ve been seeing sales grow lately, when everyone else is blogging doom and gloom, everyone else is writing about the Top Ten Thousand Mistakes You Amateur Newbie Author`s Make, and WHY YOU`RE NEVER GOING TO BE VALIDATED BY SOMEONE IMPORTANT.
(There really shouldn`t be an apostrophe there in authors, Louis. – ed.)
(Point taken. P. S. Fuck off. Louis.)
So, you`re no doubt thinking, how do we achieve these ten percent increases in sales.
The simple answer is that we work ten percent harder, or for ten percent longer, or do our jobs ten percent better. WE WRITE TEN PERCENT MORE BOOKS. These are our own personal algorithms that we are gaming, which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
Here at Long Cool One Books, we could write our product descriptions ten percent better.
We could make our book covers ten percent better, okay, that sounds silly when all of art is so subjective. But merely working, pushing ahead at a constant rate, becoming better-skilled and more professional every day, probably helps.
Producing more products, each and every month, probably helps.
Becoming a better writer, and learning more about what people read, probably helps. Writing the sort of books that people want to read, might not actually help—that`s because those product categories are already extremely crowded by people following a trend. Finding a niche that is underserved, or badly-served, might help quite a bit.
Here at Long Cool One Books, reading the rules set down from on high for other people has been very illuminating for us. They`re the ones that told us to raise our prices to where we can make a living at it—which would price our books at about a hundred and eighty-five bucks each; and no one would ever buy one. They`re the ones that told us not to check our accounts, when that is a wonderful source of data and feedback. It will just depress you, or so they said.
They forgot to mention just how much it will empower you.
(They`re the ones that told us never to use a semi-colon. – ed.)
(Point taken. Now fuck off again. Louis.)
Here`s an interesting point. Let`s say you are lucky enough to land a traditional publishing contract, signing up, in your very first contract, with a small press. It looks like a lucky break.
Someone else believes in you. They believe they can make money off of your work, the only question is why you don't. But how big is that advance. A couple of grand, five or ten grand tops. They`ll print up anywhere from 750 copies, (selling at forty bucks in an independent, brick-and-mortar store) to maybe, if you`re lucky, 2,000. You will never earn out your advance. You will likely never see a royalty cheque, and it takes years for the contract to revert. And you`ve sold somewhere between 750 and 2,000 books. The only street credibility you get is that you`ve been published.
This is the way to attract an agent. Or so they say. This is the way to make the bestseller lists—or so they say.
We`re going to continue to buck that trend, to reject all such advice, and just keep on doing what we`re already doing well. For one thing, we`ve distributed well over a hundred thousand books in five years. It`s taken that long to get where we are now. But you could submit books forever, without actually getting anywhere. That`s why so many people talk about luck in this business, when it`s really art and science that will get you to where you need to go.
Fuck them, anyways. I don`t have time for that shit.
To hell with the rest of the industry. But I will promise you this: guys like me are going to take a billion-dollar bite out of this industry in 2015. And next year, at least one-point-one billion. Maybe even one-point-one-one billion.
It`s called thinking outside the box, and they`ll lecture you on that too.
If you don`t believe it, just sit back and watch. Sit back and listen to them bitch, and whine, and piss and moan.
You will see, ladies and gentlemen.