By
Clemens Lode
,
February 4, 2022
Planted seeds growing into a green plant

Managing Your Expectations for Your First Book

Your inner voice may argue that if only every 1,000th person in the country bought your book, you would be a millionaire. If that is the case, then it is time to challenge your inner statistician. Imagine you spent the day in New York City. If only every 1,000th person you met on the street stopped you for a quick chat, your whole day would be busy. But that clearly does not happen. We spend more time on people with whom we have an emotional connection than on those with whom we do not. The same applies to books.

As harsh as it sounds, nobody will take an interest in your book just because it exists. If you do nothing but write and then release your book, expect exactly zero sales.

Even if you look up your favorite books, you will discover that they might rank only around #100,000—on Amazon, this translates into roughly one copy sold per day. Even at the #10,000 rank, only around 10 books per day are sold. How can your book compete with these numbers if even your favorite book sells only a few books per day?

First, in fact, 10 books per day is a very respectable achievement. Over a year, that might add up to $20,000 depending on your book price. While you might have heard of book authors making millions, those are the exception. In addition, many book authors are also more focused on using their books as a device for marketing their professional services than on earning money with book sales.

But you might ask, “What about all those services promising to boost your sales or even make your book the next bestseller?” In that regard, it is best to think and act on evidence: learn what exactly those services entail and how they will impact your sales. It is better to invest in services only when you know that doing so will reduce your costs or increase your sales—not because you think an offer sounds attractive.

Instead of trying to look like a successful author, find your own niche and become a successful author with that audience. In the end, you will enjoy your work a lot more, as you can work creatively in your own style. Ask yourself: what is the unique selling point of your book? Ask yourself how you select the books you are reading. A recommendation from a friend? A positive review on your favorite blog? A random Facebook ad with a questionable cover and unclear title? What emotional reaction will your readers have when seeing or reading your book?

The success of your book depends on finding that niche of readers who want to read exactly what you are writing. You need to be able to explain in detail how and why a reader would take an interest in your book. If not even you know exactly how an ad will engage your readers in reading about or buying your book, your audience certainly will not.

With that in mind, spend money only when you see a clear need for something. And seeing a clear need for something implies that you have empirical evidence. To get empirical evidence, you first have to have an initial product you can show others and gather their feedback. Start with your own network, give out free copies of your book, and hope your friends and associates will find the time to review your work within a few months. For creating and advertising your book, rely on freely available resources. For example, instead of setting up an author website (because it appears that every successful author has a website), focus on free alternatives like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Business, YouTube, or simply your Amazon Author page. Once you get sufficient traffic on those sites, you can proceed with planning the next step based on that data, and so on.

It is also important to note that simply asking is sometimes the best course of action. Let us say you have found an infographic that would work well in your book. The person who created that infographic may be delighted to share it with you, at no cost, just for the exposure. As the saying goes, the best things in life are free; if you find a way where you both profit from the exchange, all the better. The mention of the creator and a link to his or her website or published work might be worth more than he or she could get by selling the material.

Writing the Agile Way means choosing as your next step whatever comes most quickly and with the least expense. Getting better at your work in small increments is the secret and Agile project management techniques can help you to establish a process of continuous improvement.

The best advice I ever got was, “Nobody is coming.” Well, at least without a reason they will not.

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About the Author

Clemens Lode

Hello! My name is Clemens and I am based in Düsseldorf, Germany. I’m an author of books on philosophy, science, and project management, and coach people to publish their books and improve their approach to leadership.

I like visiting the gym, learning to sing, observing animals, and creating videos on science and philosophy. I enjoy learning from nature and love the idea of optimizing systems.

In my youth, I was an active chess player reaching the national championship in Germany, and an active pen&paper player leading groups of adventurers on mental journeys. These activities align with my calm approach to moderating meetings, leading meetups, and focusing on details. My personality type in socionics is IEE/ENFp.

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Clemens Lode

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