Luck And Book Sales

By on June 12, 2017

Many writers have been talking about Written Word’s article What Makes a $100k Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know ( https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author/ ). This is a great article. I agree with most of the points.

However, there is one huge factor missing

Luck.

Why Writers Care About Sales

Some reading buddies are reading this post so I wanted to explain why writers care about sales. We’re often told we should be writing for the love of it.

And we do. We WRITE for the love of it. I wrote for many decades before sending my stories to be published. I’ll write until I’m dead, whether I sell one copy or a gazillion copies.

PUBLISHING, however, is a completely different situation. I only publish the stories I think reading buddies will want to read. Why? Because publishing is much more than simply writing. There’s editing, distribution, marketing, so much marketing, and various other not-very-much-fun-for-me non-writing activities.

It also costs money. I have to sell at least 500 copies of each book to simply break even with the production costs alone (cover, editing, formatting). That might not sound like much but the average book sells 250 copies ( https://www.quora.com/How-many-copies-does-the-average-book-sell ). That’s AVERAGE. J.K. Rowling is selling millions of copies. Jill Emerging Author is selling 10 copies if she hustles and markets her butt off.

Luck

One of the factors that divides a J.K. Rowling from a Jill Emerging Author is luck. Of course, the other factors play a part in it. It is easier to get lucky if we’ve written 30 stories, if we have a great cover, great editing, a great story, a wonderful marketing campaign. All of these things increase the odds of getting lucky.

But we still need that luck.

Releasing Rage is the story of mine that has sold the most copies. Yes, I marketed it heavily for months. Yes, my cover artist created a wonderful cover. Yes, it was the best story I had ever written (as I become a better writer with each story).

I still got lucky.

When I published Releasing Rage, for example, Laurann Dohner, one of the big names in cyborg romance, was taking a break from her super successful series. Eve Langlais had wrapped up her extremely successful cyborg series. This created a gap in the market, a stroke of luck for Releasing Rage.

There was also demand for darker romances that wasn’t being met in cyborg romance. I didn’t write Releasing Rage because of this demand. I didn’t know it would be there at the time. I wrote the story and when I published it, the demand for darker romance existed (as though by magic). It could have easily not been there. I got lucky.

There were many other instances of luck with Releasing Rage. A big blogger saw my cover, liked it and decided to read the story. Some reading buddies chanced upon the story, loved it and recommended it to their friends. Some writing buddies read it and mentioned it to their reading buddies.

Did I work hard promoting Releasing Rage? Of course, I did. But I had over 150 previous releases and had worked hard in the past promoting them. I didn’t ‘get lucky’ with any of them.

Luck is a required component.

Why The Luck Factor Is Exciting

The reason I’m writing this post is I’ve read comments from writing buddies talking about how they can’t satisfy all of the eight findings or how they can’t produce 8 books a year or how they can’t spend 10 hours a day marketing because they have a rent-paying day job or a family or other factors.

These writing buddies are despairing because they don’t think they’ll ever sell more than 10 copies a release. They’re asking, “Should I quit? Are my efforts being wasted? Should I spend Saturday nights with friends rather than staring at a blank screen until my brain explodes?”

We all have to make these decisions for ourselves but please keep in mind that, although the odds of getting lucky increase with these other factors, luck can be random. We could sell 10 copies with release 2 and 10,000 copies with release 3. We could sell 10,000 copies with release 1. We could sell 10 copies with releases 1 through 300 and 10,000 copies with release 301. We simply don’t know.

No one does and if someone says they do, they’re lying. If the luck component was predictable, publishers, entities with many years of experience in the book selling business, would only produce best-selling novels. They don’t. They’re often as mystified as we are when one of their books does surprisingly well.

I find this exciting because it means the next story we write and publish might change our lives, our careers. It could be the ONE, that coveted break out hit.

Never discount luck.

***

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2 Responses to “Luck And Book Sales”

  1. Jannie says:

    I wish I could be a ‘lucky charm’ for as many authors as possible. Books (especially romance, for me) are very important!

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