Friday, April 1, 2011

How Should Authors Answer These Two Questions?

Since I published The Unveiling, most conversations with friends and family seem to include two questions: first “How many copies have you sold?” and second “What will you write next?”

I can't tell if people believe me when I say that I’m not sure how many copies I’ve sold at any given time. The quarterly statements I get from my publisher are always a few months late and the on-line summaries do not spell anything out in detail.  Two months after the end of each quarter I do get a detailed report listing what royalties I’ve earned through on-line sales, ebooks and kindle books. Even this does not indicate how many books were sold at large discounts to reach that total.

Because I have used a print-on-demand publishing package, it was up to me to approach retailers and other organizations in the hope that they might carry copies of The Unveiling for sale.. They ask that I call every few months to inquire about sales and royalties. I keep detailed records of how many books I have bought and sold on my own at presentations. When I add these to what I believe are the on-line and kindle sales, I can make a good estimate. What is reassuring to me is that I am still receiving royalty checks from the publisher, from various retail outlets and from a number of organizations.

It is even harder for me to answer the second question. While promoting The Unveiling by speaking to groups interested in mental health and family secrets, my focus was on the best way to present the book to specific groups and how to increase interest among potential readers. The preparation, the travel and the follow up all require skills that are very different from those needed for research and writing.

I now have an outline of my next book. It will be a novel based on a suspenseful investigation. I’ve begun to talk about it and to seek advice from some individuals who have special insights and experience. But the story and characters have not yet taken shape. Discipline to begin the actual research and writing is what I now need. I'm seeking a balance of keeping people interested and getting down to hard work.

I would welcome any suggestions other authors might offer about how they answer these questions and how they have made the transition from promoting one book to starting their next.

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