My trail/travel memoir, Between Each Step: A Married Couple’s Thru Hike on New Zealand’s Te Araroa, took a full lap around the sun!
It’s a small pebble of a detail, but I’ve sold 293 books directly from my website and 718 from Amazon/Ingram. You guys, that’s almost 1000 books in my first year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cue incredulous gasp, at least for me.
Anyone who knows Justin knows he sets big, hairy, audacious goals, whereas I’m more of a realist. We compromised with a goal of 500 books in my lifetime. I’m floored we reached the goal!
I have an enormous amount of gratitude for my readers and supporters. Of course I’m still in disbelief that I’m an author of an actual book that is out in the world. I can admit I have the innate talent and I’ve done the hard work to get here. But the imposter syndrome lingers like a foul smell. I’ve connected with so many awesome authors in this process, and it’s often the same sentiment. And every text message, e-mail and snail mail note complimenting my writing is like a giant hug. I blush and I smile for hours. And it is perhaps the most unexpected and best part of the publishing process.
Not for nothing, I also appreciate those who purchased the book and it is still sitting on their shelf unread (ahem, Casey Cregan, who literally was the very first person to click purchase minutes after I launched the book sale on my website, and yet he is magically stuck on page 43 … where there happens to be a scandalous scene … hmmm … but I digress …)
Anyway, I really want to do a blog post about marketing at some point because I feel like I learned A LOT in publishing my first book during a pandemic. But for now, I want to keep it short and celebrate the fact that I made it to a year. Here are the top 3 things I’ve learned about launching a book.
1) The return on investment is minimal. A book is absolutely a labor of love. Every author—especially indie authors—warned me that a book is NOT a money maker. And though I was never in it for the money, I still cannot emphasize that enough. Given the fact that my publisher, Atmosphere Press, uses a hybrid model—meaning we paid upfront for some of the book’s production costs and in turn I earn a larger percent of the book’s royalties—I am slowly recouping what we put in. It’s certainly a marathon, not a sprint.
2) My book will always be my side hustle small business. No publisher shepherds authors through the marketing anymore; they count on authors to contribute and spearhead marketing efforts. So if I want it to continuing selling, I need to try to sell it myself. Justin will always be exponentially bolder at marketing, and I do give him credit, but I fired him from being my marketing manager awhile back (he may or may not realize that—love you babe!).
3) It never gets less uncomfortable (borderline squeamish for me) to pester friends. They might tell me how much they enjoyed the book, and you might beg them to rate and leave a review. But no matter how many times I ask people to ask people to leave reviews on Amazon—either subliminally in a blog post like I am doing right now—people don’t. I get it! It takes effort and a few spare minutes, both of which people don’t have these days. Here’s the thing, I was never a review-leaver, but it is the crucial “word of mouth” marketing that is out of an author’s hand. And on Amazon, something magical happens when you hit 100 reviews. For the 1000 books I’ve sold, I only have 64 reviews. In any case, I make it a point to leave reviews on books, podcasts and any other service I can thanks to my greater understanding of their importance.
Anyway, happy 1st birthday Between Each Step! Here’s to many more!!!!!!!!
(And on a side note, I’m having issues with the store on my website, so if you want to buy a signed book for a great holiday gift, either reach out to me directly or buy an unsigned version from Amazon. Thank you for your patience!)