My job as a book marketing consultant is to help authors achieve their goals. But, achieving a goal begins by avoiding misconceptions and setting realistic expectations.
For instance, I’m a middle-aged, white guy who is only 5 feet, 10 inches tall. No matter how hard I dream or how much I try, I’m never going to dunk a basketball or play in the NBA. Believing otherwise would be lying to myself.
Likewise, I meet a lot of authors, especially indie authors, who lie to themselves and harbor unrealistic expectations about their books. The lie goes like this:
I want to be a New York Times bestseller.
If you’re an indie author, I need to tell you the cold, hard truth.
You cannot hit The New York Times bestseller list.
That’s because The New York Times doesn’t accept self-published books. They only accept traditionally-published books.
Is their policy fair? No.
Is their policy elitist? Maybe. But, it is what it is. You can’t change it.
Likewise, the NBA doesn’t accept middle-aged white guys who can’t jump.
Is their policy fair? No. It is what it is. I can’t change it.
In my case, I had to stop believing the lie that I could play in the NBA. Instead, I pursued other goals for myself that were realistic and attainable.
If you’re a self-published author, I’m sorry to give you the bad news. You won’t become a New York Times bestseller. But, living in the truth is much better than believing a lie.
When you encounter disappointment, though, be careful not to replace one lie with another.
For instance, some indie authors who realize they can’t be a New York Times bestseller assuage their discontent by creating a whole new lie. The secondary lie goes like this:
I’m an Amazon bestseller.
Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news. But, there’s no such thing as an Amazon bestseller.
That claim is a fabricated title designed to trick unsuspecting readers into thinking the author sold more books than he or she really did.
Any author can hit #1 in an obscure category on Amazon. Heck, I held the #1 spot in Amazon’s “E-commerce” category for two straight weeks. But, I only sold about 8 books per day during that period – hardly enough to be considered a legitimate bestseller.
Therefore, it’s a lie to tell people your book is an Amazon bestseller.
The only way to be a genuine Amazon bestseller is to appear on the Amazon Charts, which features the 20 top-selling fiction and nonfiction books per week.
But, Rob, why be such a party-pooper? Why rain on an author’s parade? If writers want to believe a lie, what’s the harm in giving them false hope?
We all lose when a lie takes over an industry.
Remember the lie about sub-prime loans that pervaded the mortgage industry and led to the financial crash of 2008? Millions of families lost their homes. People lost trust in banks.
Remember when baseball players lied about taking steroids in the early-2000’s? Millions of people lost faith in their sports heroes. Baseball attendance has declined ever since.
Let’s not allow the same thing to happen to the publishing industry.
When trust is broken, you may never get it back. The last thing our industry needs are writers who lie to themselves and lie to their readers.
So far, we’re the lucky ones. Writing and publishing has been largely spared from the ravages of COVID-19.
Other artists haven’t fared so well. Movie theaters almost went bankrupt. Musicians have lost a ton of money. Yet, book sales are as strong as ever.
Writers have weathered a global pandemic. We’ve made it through economic uncertainty.
But, there is one thing we won’t be able to survive…
Living in our own lies.
P.S. – Want to know how The New York Times bestseller list actually works?
Click here for my FREE insider’s guide.