You start out with some sales.
So happy to sell your first book.
Something to show for your hard work.
Then you realize it’s not like you dreamed.
You had fantasized about a bestseller.
Now that seems ridiculously far-fetched.
Maybe it’s your cover. Could it be the blurb?
Or does it need an edit? What’s the problem?
See if some revisions will do the trick.
You’re excited when sales improve.
Until you realize it wasn’t all that much.
Your dreams remain a long way off.
Aha! Marketing must be the answer.
You scour the internet for information,
Learning everything you possibly can.
Sales improve after trying these ideas out.
That must have been the key.
Except that it’s still not enough.
Then you get a new idea. Write another book.
The sales will feed off each other.
Why hadn’t you thought of this before?
Your new book helps. As does the next.
Pretty soon you have several books out.
Sales are so much better now.
But it still isn’t enough. You want more.
You crave it. You can taste it. You need it.
Why? You don’t know. You just do.
I think it’s important to compare yourself to your former self (and not just in terms of numbers).
Don’t worry about how many books other authors are selling.
Some books rarely sell, some sell like hot cakes.
Trying to grow your numbers is a good goal to strive for, as long as you don’t go overboard.
As you learn more and gain experience, and as you have more books out, this should help your numbers grow.
Improvement will give you a temporary euphoria.
Then you get accustomed to it and expect better.
When the numbers drop, as they surely will, you’ll feel depressed.
Sales fluctuate. It’s a fact of life. Strive for long-term growth. Try to ignore short-term drops.
There are seasonal and many other effects, which guarantee some drops.
Try not to let your sales dictate your happiness. Otherwise, you’ll be unhappy much of the time.
Try not to fall into the MORE trap, which doesn’t just plague book sales, but plagues many aspects of life, such as finances.
More can’t really make you happy. You seem happy about it at first. But you can’t always get more. Do you want to be unhappy all those times that you can’t have more?
But more can be a healthy goal, in moderation.
You can use this goal to strive for improvement, and to stay motivated.
Just try not to let it consume you. Then more becomes a huge problem.
Remember, you can measure “more” in other ways besides numbers—better quality, for example.
The last things you want to do are lose your passion for your hobby, forget your roots, or feel like you sold out… all to get more, More, MORE.
If you focus on more, it will never be enough.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)