I recently (and very quietly) read the success book by John Locke (How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!) Let me start by saying, I am not bashing this book. It was okay. It offered some good advice that may or may not work for the masses. I am guessing he has sold a buttload of copies of it, and good for him! I mean that.
What I’m worried about is all the authors out there who have made this their new bible of sorts. Nowhere in his book does he promise that if the author does everything he did and exactly like he did it, they will find the success he has. NOWHERE! I went into the book expecting a little more and was a little disappointed. Not because it didn’t offer good advice, in fact I agree with a good portion of it and have been using his principles for some time and preaching them to the authors and writers I have met along the way. No, I’m not looking for credit, I am trying to make a point.
- I blog. Actually I think I blog pretty well. I’ve never had complaints. I get plenty of praise, and I’m confident that I have a pretty good following. But how many of you have actually bought any of my books or short stories? You like me, right? So why not invest in my career?
- I interact with people. Probably more than I should. I am a social networking whore. I admit. My name is Karen, and I am addicted to social networking. I don’t talk at people, I talk to them, and you talk back.
- I write well. One difference between Locke and I is that I do care what people think about my writing as well as my stories. Of course I want my words to move you, but I don’t want you to get a headache trying to sift through crappy punctuation, grammar, and spelling. I will read one of his books (probably one of the westerns) and I’m sure I’ll be entertained, but I’m already prepared for writing that may or may not be good.
- I invest in people. When I was going through some horrible times, years back, I turned to books as my refuge. You’ve heard people say that, but it’s true. Authors like Caroline Bourne, Jill Barnett, Rebecca Paisley, and all manner of others took me through some pretty dark days. Days that I readily admit could have ended in my death, were it not for the hope and inspiration their stories and their writing offered me. When I came through all of that, I decided I wanted to give back. I knew I wanted to write as well as them, and I wanted to tell stories that touched and affected the lives of others. I’ve spent the last 15 years offering to others what I took back in those days. I offer it with my writing and I offer it with my publishing.
Now, here’s my point. After reading Locke’s book, I was disappointed. I have done the things he spoke of and I have done them for years. Yet, I have sold nowhere near a million of anything. Why is that? Am I not working hard enough? Smart enough? Am I more confident in myself than others are in me? Whatever the reason, I would like to offer a bit of my own wisdom with regard to this matter.
Read books by people like Locke, and learn from them, but don’t put them on pedestals because they accomplished something. They are people just like us, and no matter how much you pay for a book like his, it will never guarantee the success he found. There is no secret to successful bookselling. It is something you simply must strive to do every day. EVERY DAY you must go out and tell people who you have written something that is so important to you that you are confident that in some way it will affect them. You must give readers a reason to make the investment in you. Will it work every time? Obviously not, or people would be interviewing me and not John Locke or Amanda Hocking.
They deserve the praise, they have both worked very hard and obviously very smart. Am I jealous? Yes, but not for the reasons you may think. I don’t envy their success. I envy their ability to convey to others the value of buying their books and remaining loyal readers. I envy their ability to show others their personal value, because that is a huge part of their success. Readers believe in them. I want that.
Authors, there is no secret for selling millions of books. No book is ever going to give you that. People like Locke can offer you insight into how they did it, but facts are, you are not him. Your situation, life, and abilities are very different. It is the wonder of diversity. Read the books, pay attention, and then go out and find your own success. It’s out there for all of us, we just have to embrace it and nurture it to its full capacity.
Readers, embrace the authors you love. Continue to buy their books and help them find their success, but I urge you to keep your minds open and embrace what you don’t know with the expectation of great things. There are new authors exploding onto the scene with books and stories that will blow you away. Don’t be caught in the he said, she said trap of the industry. Things are always changing in the book world. Formats, styles, themes, everything. Don’t be afraid that if you set aside a paperback novel and try reading something on a Kindle that it will be the ruination of you and the paperback industry. It won’t. We live in a vast world that offers so much potential for growth and only if we explore and embrace all of our choices will we find what we are truly seeking.