No, I am not pregnant, in fact I have lost 10 pounds. But that isn’t the announcement. Just nipping a few things in the bud.
There are professional moments, of which, I am especially proud. When I was published. When I was accepted into anthologies with much more experienced, and in some cases Hugo Award nominated and winning authors. When my daughters read my story told from the perspective of a teenage girl and didn’t cry foul at any of her thoughts or feelings. When I told a story that was hard for me to write, hard for people to read, and yet they read, and finished it because it was so GOOD they hungered for the last period. Here I am. Another milestone. The power of it has me shaking.
There is an interesting psychological thingie (and that is the technical term) I like to call: The Million Dollar effect. Look at someone and ask: What happens if you get 1 Million dollars?
Most of them no longer want to work, or go on vacations, or buy houses, yachts, planes, and so on. Well, then they start looking at a million dollars. Though it is more money than many of us will make in a year – a decade – lifetime even – once you have a million dollars, even theoretical ones, you realize there is little you can do with it. Yes you can live in the same apartment you live in now, eat the same stuff as now, and drive the same cars, plans very quickly eat up the excess cash. That doesn’t even touch charitable giving, funds for later generations, and so on. It turns out one million is just another number.
So, a few months ago my publisher and I were walking down the halls at a convention. He asked:
“So, Dan, what are your goals?”
I curled my fingers into a shaking rock, “Rule the known universe with an iron fist!”
He sighed, “In publishing.”
The reply was instant, “New York Times Bestseller.”
He nodded, “Agreed, good, but more… short term.”
I actually had to think about it. I mean, I’m the kind of guy that sees the top of the mountain and that’s my goal. To this day I don’t know if he was worried about me burning out, feeling that I needed encouragement, or if he’s precognicient, or just a sneaky bastard (you’ll see). So I said: “I would like to sell 1,000 copies of one of my novels in a single year.”
This may seem small, but I did not speak blindly. Can’t remember where I saw it, but googling this phrase gets three billion hits:
Of 1.2 million books published in 2004, only 10 sold more than a million copies; fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000, and only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies, and the remaining 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
Now, this is lifetime sales, but after the first year things slow down a lot. I had sold dozens, then hundreds of my titles in a year, but I had never broken 1,000. It was the next step to go from one out of a million authors, to one out of thousands. I was satisfied with this. Well, I think he knew something I did not. I am pretty sure of it in fact. See, he gets reports from places and sees how fast/slow something is moving, and can predict trends and see where the ball is going to bounce. As an author I get a check once every six months and a report, but it’s all six months late and full of hindsight.
So the publisher calls me a few weeks ago and says: “I Know Not is outselling your other books.”
After a Tex Avery style reaction involving soda in my sinuses and on my laptop screen, I asked, “Which one?”
“All of them.”
And then, and then I did not ask the question that is obvious now. I got my royalty check and did a dance, expecting even greater things next time around. What I did not ask, however, was: All the books EACH or ALL TOGETHER. That question was answered in an email two weeks later:
Get out the celebratory drinks and prepare a new goal. I Know Not is set to sell the 1,000th Kindle copy on Wednesday, September 21st
–Your Publisher (and don’t call me a sneaky bastard, you jerk! My wife reads your blog!)
Which now that I read that again, maybe lends credence to the precognicient thing.
In any case, I danced around again, then I realized that things were even better: these are only Kindle sales. Print sales have not been figured in, and while most scifi/fantasy titles are heavily weighted toward kindle/ebook formats, it means that I am already there, already past there with more to come. I’ve gotten to the next base camp. And I’m sticking with the mountain climbing thing because I feel like I need oxygen tanks. I’ve done it. Again. And while it is a trifling thing to sell 1,000 copies for many of my friends, it is new to me. Then I remember the book has only been out for 13 weeks, the busy season has yet to happen and… uh… I need to sit down for a minute!
I am one step closer to being able to do this for a living. I am a little bit nearer to my real goal.
Next is 5,000. Two novels published in a single year. I would also like (God, are you listening?) to have some geek icon seen reading my work.
And I want to thank all the authors, editors, and publishers, that have gotten me this far. And thank you to my wife who refuses to be surprised at my success, because she believes in me so thoroughly.
Because reaching a goal is no reason to stop. It is a reason to run faster.