September 24, 2020– Before COVID happened, I popped into an Indigo bookstore in my city. Bookstores are my happy place, and I love to browse the different sections and topics; I always seem to find my way into the children’s area. Often, the store has local author visits where writers can set up a table and sell their books to customers in-store.
I wandered over to the author’s table, and the woman looked up at me as she was sitting there reading a book. I was the first to engage in conversation; I asked her how it was going, and if she had been busy with customers. She told me she hadn’t, and she wasn’t really into the “sales part” of writing and that she preferred to write the books and stay “behind the scenes.” I asked her what she thought would happen after she published her book, and she said that she hadn’t thought that far ahead. I asked her about her sales goals and if she had a plan for her book going forward. Again, she said she “hadn’t thought that far ahead.” She went on to tell me that she had spent a pile of money self-publishing her book and that now she had a garage full of unsold copies that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with now. She also said that she wished she had more sales and that she wanted to, at minimum, break even.
I see this a lot, and it’s a shame because her book was quite good and the subject matter was interesting. As an author, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you where you want to be?
- What are you doing to get there?
- What can you improve?
If we use the woman above as an example to answer these questions, here’s what we come up with:
- She is not where she wants to be. What she wants is more sales, she wants to break even, and she wants to get rid of the inventory of books in her garage. She should be specific about her goals.
- She is going to book store events, but not much else. She needs to start brainstorming about how she can sell her books—Eg. Online platform, other book stores, schools, festivals and events etc.
- There are a lot of things she can improve; the first thing is engaging with customers when she has them in front of her, hand out literature, talk more about her book, get on social media etc.
You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. So are you where you want to be as an author? What goals do you have for your work? How will you get there? What plan of action will you take? How will you improve your current situation? These are important questions that need answers.