1) How’s it doing? It’s not easy to find out how your book is doing. I didn’t want to pester my editor every month, so I kept tabs on my B&N and Amazon rankings. Since I didn’t know how each site came up with their system, I only knew Uninvited was selling, but I didn’t have a clue about real sales figures. A friend told me I could call Ingram’s automated stock and sales line, find out how many books were sold, and multiply that number by six to get an estimate of sales figures. That was depressing, and fortunately not a reflection of my over all sales. As of September, Uninvited has gone through a total of six printings—and I learned the online snooping don’t give you a clear picture of sales.
2) Royalty Statements. I received my first royalty statement a few weeks ago. S&S sends them out twice a year. This statement covered September through March 31st, and as I was flipping through the pages I was thrilled to discover I’d earned out my advance! I was happily thinking I could turn the thermostat up a bit this winter because I had some extra cash coming my way to pay for heating oil, and then I looked at the last page. They withheld 50% of my earnings in reserve of returns. It’s in the contract—perfectly within their rights, but what a bummer.
3) Cyber Hate. Your agent, editor and imprint all love your book, so everyone else will, too, right? Wrong. I knew that wasn’t going to be the case—I have eclectic tastes in books, but my eyes tend to glaze over reading historical fiction and fantasies chock full with long descriptive passages, but I don’t get angry about it. The hate some people spew about books baffles me. You have to have a tough skin in this business, but I think with so many people laying it all out there online, it has to get even tougher. I had to quit my Goodreads account just to keep my self-esteem intact, but some live journal friends wisely told me to print out all the wonderful things people have said about my book and keep them in a folder to read after stumbling across some cyber hate.
4) It’s a Dog Eat Dog World. Not really—I was so very pleasantly surprised to find that the world of children’s authors is a very friendly place. I’ve seen so many authors supporting each other and those in the process of selling their first books, which more than makes up for the cyber review hate. I guess we have to take the good with the bad, but I’m grateful for all of the good karma out there from other writers.
5) What do you mean it’s not being stocked? I’ve mentioned this before, but my biggest surprise about being published is the reality that your book may not get stocked in the big bookstores. I was chatting with my sales rep about this last weekend, and it breaks my heart that some amazing books are not going to be in the stores. How will they find an audience if no one can get their hands on them? One good thing about Amazon and other online venues is that these books are there, waiting to be discovered, but I just wish I could sneak some of them on the shelves in the brick and mortar stores so they can find a bigger audience.