The other day I ran into "the one". You know the one? The one author who wrote the book - and it soared through the ceiling that marks best seller from the others. The author who not only broke that ceiling but went on to launch a few rockets into the stratosphere of sales. It gets better though, let's up the ante. Not only did the book do all that and, of course, win an award but it was self-published. But back to self-published - think of it - after operation costs - all that lovely cash yours, no royalty splits for anything or anyone. While I still want the conventional publisher - it's the sales that had me slack-jawed. Twenty-thousand books sold - well above the five thousand required in Canada to be a best seller. Good thing this author was a talker because I was speechless
So while I gathered my wits, the author says to me - they'd like to do better - better, as in crack the US market. Yes, you read right - numbers like that and they'd only focused on the Canadian market. That brought forth the question - what was my experience in the US market. It was rather a reverse case scenario - although my numbers in sales can't even compare. I remember in the early days, when my first book was published, trying to determine the best way to crack another market, the Canadian. Yes, I am a Canadian writer published by an American small press which is an anomaly that Canadian bookstores are mostly not prepared to work with - but that's, another story. Anyway, as I remembered my trials, I realized that I did indeed have information that might help.
Back to the author in front of me who was commanding a book signing - one of many in the past year, and while I felt pleasure at their success, it also shadowed the not-best seller status of my own endeavors and those of the majority of other authors. Most of us never get the extra zero required to make anyone's bestseller list or to take sales into the thousands - not the small press and indie authors and that's not for lack of trying.
I won't deny this author's sales success - in another life they should have been a salesperson. Of course, in this life, I guess they are. I know they sold a book to me. A book that I normally wouldn't have bought. But I'm a sucker for that, author signings - I can't leave the author alone as most of them are, of course, this author does not fall into the most category. And as the American Idol saying goes - Good on Them.
This author reminded me of two things - the importance of having a reader platform and the importance of believing in your self and selling yourself. You're not just an author - you're a salesperson and until you learn that last role - barring luck, the latest replacement to the Oprah show, a dazzling story that receives instant recognition and an awesome marketing department, those extra zeros are just never going to happen. I tell myself that this author had an advantage - and they do. In this case there was an existing platform, a person who was known by many in the province and thus the word of mouth game snowballs. But all that would not hold for long if this wasn't a good story combined with a fine job of working hard and selling yourself. It was a motivational encounter - really - and reminded me that to succeed you've got to reach high because while there's no guarantee of getting to the top, reaching is definitely going to take you a step higher than where you are.
So good luck I say to said author as I leave with a signed copy of the first of a series under my arm. But I really don't know if they need luck for they've found the truth sooner than most of us.
No matter what your goal - sweat isn't just the domain of athletes.