In the world of publishing, we talk a lot about selling books. We obsess over promotion and marketing and how to ensure our books sell once they are released. Once published, we turn our focus to how many sales went through registers each week according to Neilson Bookscan (which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books including Amazon.com) and if we have made it onto any bestseller lists–and if we stay on them. As writers, we think our success is measured by readers buying books, and the money we will earn by these sales. In fact, our success comes from how many of those book buyers actually read our books. More simply said, an author’s success should be measured by number of readers and by how those readers react to your book.
Maybe that’s why I love blogging and blogging books so much. Here in the blogosphere, success is measured by readers, reader engagement and page views. I know I’ve had a good day or month as a blogger when my words have been read by many unique visitors, received comments from my readers–comments that let me know I have touched them or made a difference in their lives, and had many of my blog posts read by those who visited my blog.
I often say that writers don’t write only because they feel compelled to do so; they write to be read. Yes, we writers are a creative bunch with a desire for self-expression. We feel most fulfilled, though, when what we create get’s communicated, meaning when someone actually receives that communication and understands it. We don’t have to receive money for it–or a lot of money for it (although that’s nice), but we do need to feel what we have written has value–offers value. When we get the sense that others have benefited from our blogged books, our time and effort writing seems worthwhile, we know our our blogged books–and our work, has value. For some of us, we find self-worth in this as well (although we should feel good about ourselves anyway, of course).
Some of us write from a deep sense of purpose–call it soul purpose. We feel we have a mission in this lifetime we must accomplish. Maybe we need to help others change or or we want to change the world in some small or large way. If we accomplish this by garnering even a few readers who personally change or make changes that impact larger changes in the world, that is, indeed, something about which to feel proud. But you don’t need to sell books to accomplish this. You can accomplish it with a blogged book; you can create a community of change agents eager to help you further your cause. When that happens, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve sold any books or just blogged a book that authored changed. You’ve accomplished your purpose.
If we continue to focus on sales, we may never feel satisfied, especially given the shrinking sales of each new title. Look at the sad statistics:
- The average U.S. nonfiction book sells less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. (New York Times, March 31, 2010).
- In 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.
It’s better to look at some happy facts that can lead to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment as a writer and a book blogger. With a blog or a blogged book:
- you can have 250 readers in a month or in a day.
- you can have 3,000 readers in a month or in a day.
- you can have 5,000 readers in a month or in a day.
- you can have 10,000+ readers a month or a day.
That’s a lot of people whose lives you can touch and benefit. That’s a lot of change you can author in the world.
I’m not saying don’t aspire to become the author of an ebook or printed book. I’m not saying don’t aspire to sell a lot of those book. What I am saying is keep sales in perspective; focus on the real reason you write. And then take a look at whether a blog and a blogged book might help you accomplish that goal.
If you live in N. California, consider attending this one-time-only small group workshop in the Santa Cruz Mountains on How to Blog Your Way to a Book Deal on October 27.
Want to become an Author of Change? Write the change you want to see in the world. Find out how here.