Cling to the wreckage
“If I sell two issues, I feel like John Grisham.”
–Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy
One of the reasons I decided to take over the publishing on Fear and Anger (which, coincidentally, is available at the Eddington Press Store, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble) is because I wasn’t terribly happy with the sales of the second book in the series, Supercritical.
OK, “wasn’t terribly happy” is a bit of an understatement. I was depressed for a month or two. Like, actually depressed. I considered chucking this whole writing thing out onto the street and going to work at a Virgin Megastore (if only I could find one still in business) for the rest of my life.
I won’t say this was a mature, enlightened reaction to a book that didn’t do well… but it was the reaction I had. I was about ready to chuck in the towel on the 47 Echo series, but then an idea my wife and I had been kicking around (Eddington Press) and an idea of where to take the series next hit at the same time, and I was back on track.
Now, with some distance and another book out, I can look back at Supercritical with some clarity. And doing so now, I realize the problem wasn’t the book, or the marketing, or the sales numbers, or any of that… the problem, simply put, was me.
Here’s how it breaks down: 47 Echo sold very well, much more than I had any right to expect. So when it was time to release Supercritical, and I saw all the early reviews, I expected it to blow up like mad.
It… did not. As of this writing, it’s sold less than 10% of what 47 Echo did. Fear and Anger‘s sales numbers in the first week are already better than Supercritical‘s first full month. But absolutely none of that should matter.
Now that I’m doing the publishing bit (with help from others, of course) as well as the writing bit, I see it all from a different perspective. Every time I see Fear and Anger sell a copy, I’m as excited as I would be if someone had just handed me a bag of cash. Every copy sold means someone is reading it at some point, and that’s the important part. It could sell 28 copies overall and I’d be happy, because 28 people read it, and some of them dug it.
And that’s how it should be. Do I hope it sells amazingly well? Of course. Will I be depressed if it doesn’t? Absolutely not. Because it’s out there. And someone likes it. Someone read it and was entertained for a few hours — and that was the whole reason I wrote it in the first place.
I did my job. And I’m thrilled every single time someone buys a copy, because they’re giving me a chance to share with them the job I did.
I don’t know if there’s much in this world that can beat that.