I’ve said for a long time that everything flows from ebook sales – audiobook sales, paperback sales, foreign rights deals, agents, print-only deals – all the “markers of success” that authors often seek. If you sell enough ebooks, the rest will come (not always – a lot of the world is crazy random, especially when tradpub is involved). You’re not guaranteed those other things, but almost always, the ebook sales success comes first.
You may have noticed I’m not much into these markers. They really don’t do anything for me, not the way an amazing review or lots of sales (meaning: readers) feels like success. READERS – that’s the long and short of what I want, and I’ve been clear on that from my very first Mission Statement.
And yet… it’s precisely by focusing on reaching more readers that I accrue those markers.
Today, Penname got offers from Tantor and Audible (big audiobook publishers) to do audio for her new series, which is currently selling like gangbusters. The strategy I worked out with my agent was to take the contract with the smaller publisher (ListenUp) in hopes of selling audio well enough to convince the big fish to bite on the next series. It worked – but only because the ebooks are selling.
On the For Love side, by contrast, my agent told me no way she could sell my Singularity series in audio – sales were just too low. So I signed my own award-winning narrator and took the financial risk myself to produce those – the first just wrapped up today and I’m ecstatic with how it turned out. Which is perfect – this series is emotionally close to my heart, and I needed absolute control over how it was produced.
It can be hard to take, competing with myself. But it’s also fantastic to know that sales are much more about the market than they are about ME as an author. I have intrinsic proof of that by writing in two different genres that sell at different levels. I can decide when I want to go after the market and when I want to write crazy stories about boys who want to be robots. Both have hard-won fans and great reviews. Both have readers with grabby hands to scoop up that new release. And THAT is what floats my boat – always has been and always will be – not the supposed markers that say “success” to the outside world.
(All that being said, someday SKQ just might write to the market and then… we’ll see what happens.)