Now that I work from home so much, I have a lot of catching up to do when I finally get a chance to talk to a friend. One of the first comments I get from people these days seem to be, “How’s the book doing?”
They’re not asking about the new book I’m working on, they’re asking about Painted Black which was published last December. That much I can usually count on. What I don’t know is how to answer them.
How do you judge how a book is doing? If I answer based on the reviews and feedback I’ve gotten from people, I’d say the book is doing great. The ratings that I’ve gotten have all been four or five stars and almost everyone has mentioned how reading the book has made them think seriously about homelessness. Some have even said they now see homeless people through new eyes.
This, above all, is the measure of success I hope people are asking me about. But if they really just want to know how many copies are sold, that’s where my confusion comes in. In the first place, since I didn’t self publish, I don’t have immediate access to sales numbers. Even my publisher only gets print sales information once a quarter. In the second place, if sales are minimal, wouldn’t telling people that make it sound like Painted Black is not a very good book? How do I even know how many copies sold equals a book’s success or failure?
I can say that Painted Black has not made any best seller lists. It has not made me or the publisher rich. It hasn’t even made me any money yet. Do I wish more people would buy the book? Hell yes! But not so that I can say my book sold xxx,000 copies. I want people to buy the book for the same reason I love to read books: to learn, to enjoy, to be touched by the world within its pages and maybe have their own lives influenced as well.