It’s a simple question, and the answer is often multi-layered.
But it’s an important question when it’s posed to a self-published author. You see, we don’t have the same luxuries as those who are supported by agents and publishing houses, with marketing budgets, sales targets and best-seller lists.
For us, we need to determine why we’ve undertaken our writing (and publishing) journey, and also, what we want to get from the experience.
Let’s face it, even if a publisher releases and distributes your book, or you’re represented by an agent, it’s difficult to sell books. But when you’re on your own, it’s even tougher.
I’m not complaining, I’m just providing some context and perspective. When I wrote and self-published my first book, I naively thought it would sell some copies. But soon I realized that it’s a long and slow process, one that continues today.
That’s why soon after I released my first book, I switched my focus to building an audience and using multiple platforms and approaches to do so. And now, I derive great satisfaction when a reader tells me they enjoyed my book.
Do those comments lead to sales? Frankly, not really. Fact is, often people tell me they lent their copy of my book to a friend. The first few times I heard that, it upset me because I wanted people to buy the book, not share it.
But soon I realized that if I’m meant to sell a lot of books (and hopefully, I am), it will happen, but only when I succeed in building my audience. And if that means my books are shared among book clubs, family members or friends, or borrowed from libraries or online apps like Libby and Hoopla, that’s good enough for me.
So if you’re a self-published author – or are thinking about becoming one – ask the question, and be honest with yourself before you get too far along in your journey:
“What do I want?”