Sales Anxiety, and Why It’s Silly

I “strolled” by the kindle boards again today.  Once again, a thread caught my attention.

The original poster was somewhat distraught that his books weren’t selling.  A completely understandable sentiment.  I fully expect to be in a similar boat next month, when I release Masters.  I’ve managed to not worry about sales of the two short stories I put up on the ebook stores a couple months ago, but I put them up mostly as a learning experiment.  Masters will be different.  It’s a book I spent just over four months writing.  I think it’s good, and the feedback I’ve gotten has been, for the most part, positive.  But still, I’m a nobody.  It’s unrealistic to expect it’ll sell much at all for a while.  If ever.

But I’m ok with that.  I think.  There’s no rush, after all.  I’m developing a six year plan for this writing gig (assuming I dig it enough to stick with it that long…and I think I will).  Why six years?  Because that’s when I can retire from the Navy.  So I guess I’m in a different boat than many other wannabe writers out there.

But not that different.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Yes, some amazingly lucky folks out there will have their books catch on very quickly, but most will not.  Many will never sell many copies of any particular title in any particular month.  But that’s not necessary to earn some good money.  Dean Wesley Smith posted about this, and I did too, a couple months back.  If you look at either of our cash flow analyses, you can see that with enough titles, over time, you can earn some good money with just a few sales from each title.

So my first inclination when I read this kindle boards post was to think, “Dude.  Relax.  Just write more stories and put them up.  It’ll come.”  Some folks in the replies said essentially the same thing.  Others gave all sorts of other advice.  Some good, some maybe so-so.  But then I had another thought.  “Dude, maybe your stories just suck, and that’s why they’re not selling.”  Not a nice thought, but it’s a distinct possibility.  What’s the cure for that?  For those stories, nothing.  The cure is my first thought, really.  Write some more and put it out there for sale.  You know, Heinlein’s rules.

So, going forward, I’m going to do my best to not dwell on sales.  I’m going to try to focus on finishing the next project and either mailing it to an editor or putting it up for sale myself.  No reason not to take both indie and traditional publishing routes, after all.

That’s enough pontificating for one night.  I’m off to try to write that story for Writers of the Future.  I’ve had no luck getting going on it the last couple nights.  But then, I’ve allowed myself to get distracted.  Not tonight though.  Tonight, I’m focused and raring to go.  🙂