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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

Always grateful for every book sale

We need the smallest viable audience, not the biggest possible audience.

Seth Godin

It’s so easy getting caught up in book sales when you’re an author. When I first started in this business and I received a small advance from Kensington Publishing for “A Cajun Dream” historical romance, I thought I was on top of the world.

“Are you going to quit your job?” a coworker asked me.

“I don’t make that much,” I told her. Seriously, very few authors — and I mean very few — can completely live off their sales.

“You’re waiting for the movie rights,” she replied.

I thought she was kidding but no, straight face. Head tilted like a curious dog.

“Sure,” I answered, trying not to laugh.

Of course, deep inside I was thinking yes, that would be lovely and yes, I would quit my day job.

The reality of publishing, like I mentioned above, is that few of us can quit our day jobs. I teach a seminar on how to get published and I save the financial part to last. That’s usually when all those eager, hopeful smiles in my audience turn solemn.

“Sorry, folks,” I say. “Publishing doesn’t pay that much unless you make it big, your publisher pushes your book like crazy or you’re Michelle Obama.”

Then one day, a sweet teenager in the back, who was working on a sci fi novel, piped up. “But the possibility is there,” he said, his eager, hopeful smile still in place.

That’s what keeps most writers going, the possibility that we can create our art without having a job to keep the lights on. I’m fortunate that my day job is also writing — I’m a freelance food and travel writer — and I love what I do but I can’t help checking sales stats and wishing for the day my book sales pay ALL my bills.

And yet, I’m totally down with Seth Godin. I get a daily update on ebook sales from BookTrakr and every single sale brings me such joy. I imagine a reader out there reading the words I put together and receiving enjoyment from them. I get a kick out of selling books to places like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India and other faraway places and wonder what they think of my examination of American (Southern, Cajun) culture. While sales are always nice and they do pay bills, I’m so very thankful for every book I sell.

So, please know, dear reader, that I appreciate every single one of you. When I reach best-seller status (I’m doing the positive affirmation thing here), I will always be grateful for every reader who chooses my words.

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