By Lisabet Sarai
A couple of weeks ago, I received my royalty report from Excessica for the first quarter of 2016. I opened it right away, very eager to see the sales numbers for my latest novel, The Gazillionaire and the Virgin (which by the way is currently half off at Smashwords).
The book came out at the very end of January. I invested a huge amount of energy and some significant money in promoting the new release. Among other activities, I organized a fifteen stop blog tour, with unique posts for each day and a $50 first prize. I sent out media kits to at least fifty author colleagues who sometimes post promo material for me. I booked (and paid for) features in two newsletters that highlight free or cheap books (after asking Excessica to do special price deals for a couple of weeks). Almost every day, I sent out one or two come-on quotes from the book via Twitter. I also contacted lots of sites to solicit reviews.
Reactions to the book were really enthusiastic. The book currently has a five star rating on Amazon. Readers wrote things like:
“This book is one of the top five hottest books I have read. These were two of my most favorite lovers.”
“I was completely drawn into this relationship, and the relationship IS the story.”
"Do I recommend this one? Oh hell yeah. Realistic D/s with hot as hell kinky sex? Yes, please!"
Obviously I was delighted by this reception. Maybe I’d figured out at last how to write a romance that could please the masses! Perhaps, after sixteen years, I’d finally written something that I could honestly label a best seller.
The royalty report poured some cold water on my hopes. In Q1 of 2016 (only two months, given the book’s release date), people bought 103 copies of the novel. Many of those copies were discounted or free.
I’d be lying if I claimed I wasn’t disappointed.
I’m sure the book will continue to sell—a few copies per month, considering the thirty-day cliff. So, given the current topic, I have to ask myself: Is this book a success? Am I?
It’s all relative. This is more copies than I’ve sold of any book since my first (which actually earned out its advance). I guess that should make me happy. It’s more copies than some of my author friends sell in a year, I know. Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth?
But I deserved to sell more, my bitter side whines. People who write the same book again and again sell thousands of copies—of each volume! And readers liked my book, that’s clear. All I need is more readers...
I don’t want to make myself miserable, though. I have to let it go. I value my peace of mind more than the money or the fame I’d imagined this book might bring me.
And it occurs to me, that the real definition of success just might be continuing to tell my stories, even if I’m not a best seller.
Or is that just plain stupidity and a waste of my scarce time?