by Thomas Hawk
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One thing that I have learned over the course of my five year writing and book selling career is that other writers lie. They lie about their numbers when they sell books, they lie about their reviews, they lie about how major publishers are interested in their books, and they lie about how they are doing overall.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Don’t ever believe everything that another self-published author tells you. The chances are that they are doing the exact same or even worse than you as far as book selling.
My rule of thumb: if another author finds it necessary to brag to you about how many copies he or she has sold, divide that number by 15 to get the real figure!
For a short time, I decided to sell my self-published novels on the streets of New York. (Talk about the school of hard knocks!) I would constantly meet other authors who did the same thing and claimed to sell cases and cases of their titles in just a few hours on the streets.
I would say to myself wow, how did they sell books like that? Meanwhile, I was lucky to sell about 20 books in a four hour period, and I had a damn good sales pitch. So this made me feel as if there was something wrong with me — was I not pushing my novels hard enough? Was the title and cover unattractive? Should I chase people down the street?
The Book Selling Truth is Revealed
One day, I happened to set up shop down the block from another author who was always making these grandiose book selling claims. For the couple of hours I was there, he barely sold four copies. Maybe five.
In another case, I attended a book fair and sat directly next to another author. He bald-face lied to my face about selling two cases of books when barely 15 people came to his table the entire day.
Moral of the stories: don’t believe the hype you hear from other authors about their sales.
Books Sold versus Books Shipped
Additionally, even authors who are published by big houses will lie and fudge their figures.
For example, say a new author under a large or mid-sized publisher claims to have “sold” 100,000 copies. In reality that is probably the number of copies that were shipped to stores; not yet sold to an end user/reader.
The majority of those books will probably be returned in due time to the publisher and be sold at cut rate prices until they’re finally gone, which could take years.
Focus on Your Own Book Selling
So don’t believe everything that other authors say, and don’t let their claims of success discourage you.
In fact, it is my strong belief that you should not even rub noses with other self-published authors. Mind your own business and keep sales information private when you sell books. Do not discuss your sales figures and earnings with other authors. There is too much catty behavior, lies, and deceit. (This is a big reason why many publishing houses and established authors don’t take self-published authors seriously.)
Finally, if you are a new self-published author, don’t participate in this lying behavior to make yourself look better when you sell books! Have some integrity and respect for your craft. Just focus on your own book selling activities and you will grow.
Penelope Thompson is the author of a helpful, handy new little eBook entitled “How to Sell Thousands of Your Self-Published Book: A Solid Marketing Plan for Selling 7,000 Books in 10 Months”