Most authors write because that is the preferred way of creative expression. Whether they write exciting thrillers, romance novels or young adult adventure series, they feel compelled to express themselves through stories. The sheer variety of books that are published each year prove that audiences have wide range of reading tastes. However, when it comes to measuring the success of a book, the only metric that catches public attention is the number of copies sold.
From a spot on a bestseller list to an invitation for a popular podcast, from prestigious awards to impossible to understand algorithms, it seems like a book (and consequently the author) can be considered to have ‘arrived’ solely based on the sales alone.
When I published my memoir, Rewriting My Happily Ever After about two months ago, I was not expecting commercial success. And I’m here to tell you that my book hasn’t (yet) become profitable. It wasn’t surprising considering that I was not a famous author, plus I had not allocated any publicity or advertising budget.
However, I still consider my book to be a success. Why?
Here are five reasons:
- Nine out of ten early readers kept their word and left me a four or five star review on Goodreads even before the launch date — While I expected most people to keep their word, I later discovered that many early readers do not follow through on the agreement to leave a review. Maybe I was lucky or maybe they really liked my book enough to do so. I prefer to believe the latter.
- Social media followers contacted my through direct messages to enquire about the book during the preorder stage — Trying to make my book available in all formats in all marketplaces was not easy. As I struggled with getting the print books available in India, I was flooded with messages asking for its availability. It felt good to know that sincere and serious readers were looking for my book.
- Friends and acquaintances informed me that they found my book ‘unputdownable’ — If readers keep turning the pages to find out what happened next and finish reading the book in one go, either the story itself or the storytelling has kept them engaged. Either option makes me happy.
- I received emails from readers who are going through a tough time in their own relationships (or other areas of their lives) as well as who share their own stories with me. One of my main reasons for writing my book was to open conversations on the topic of divorce — certainly this goal has been met.
- From developing friendships with fellow writers, readers gifting my book to their friends, and having author interaction sessions with groups of readers, my connections have grown. So much of our life satisfaction is linked to our relationships and developing new, enabling ones has certainly enriched my life.
What is the most satisfying part of my writing-publishing journey?
The opportunity to connect with people. They know me through my book. But when they reach out to me and open up about their own experiences, I see them too. And both of us feel validated.
I may not know much about marketing but I’m pretty sure there is no metric to measure the impact of building high-level interpersonal connections and how that translates to ‘success’. All I can say is that it feels pretty good right now.