You probably remember this idea from Kevin Kelly a while back. He’s the one who said that you don’t need to be famous to be successful. You only need 1,000 true fans.
Now, a true fan is someone who resonates with your purpose and message and who wants to buy everything you put out into the world.
What’s the best way to FIND your true fans? Well, I’d suggest that putting out a book is an awesome way to find your true fans. Anyone who sees your book title, buys your book, reads the whole thing, and then gets in touch with you—yeah, that person is pretty likely to become a true fan.
But, I get it, when you pour your heart and soul into a book, you don’t really want to imagine that it’s going to top out at 1,000 true fans.
I think the traditional publishing industry has totally skewed our perspective on author goals.
For publishing companies, they only make money when a book is sold. So, to make millions of dollars, they need to sell millions of books. That’s it—their entire business model hinges on selling millions of books. And they’ve teamed up with the New York Times and news outlets and bookstores to help their singular goal of selling a shit ton of books.
But, for us authors? Well, if we’re traditionally published and we sell 10,000 copies of our book, we make… about $10,000. Imagine all the hours of brainstorming, researching, organizing, writing, editing, re-writing, editing some more, going through the publishing process, marketing… all for $10,000? After literally YEARS of work?
I’m wondering if it’s time for us, as authors to shift our goals. We don’t need to sell tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of our books.
Many of us have some sort of other way we make money. Maybe we are teachers or coaches or therapists or consultants or speakers or course-creators or podcasters. If we brought in 1,000 new people into our business today… would that make a difference to our bottom line?
Yes, yes, it would.
When we self-publish our books and we can sell our books directly to our readers, without a middleman of a publishing house or a bookstore, we can actually connect with our readers more quickly. We can follow up with them via email or a postcard in the mail. And we can invite them to work with us in a deeper way.
The truth is that everything in retail is going direct-to-consumer.
Heck, I don’t even shop for bags or shoes in stores anymore. I just go to my Instagram feed and I buy from the convenience of my couch while I’m watching Netflix in the evening. It’s awesome. I love direct-to-consumer. And, yes, Rothy’s does send me emails afterward. But they also send me coupons, so I’m very okay with that!
And bookstores are still around, for now, but it won’t be long before they have to sell more than books to keep their doors open. They’ll need to sell wine and beer and have live music and events where you can meet your favorite author and go to a personal development workshop.
Their revenue from book sales is dwindling because everyone wants to buy their books online.
And publishers’ revenue from book sales is dwindling, so they’re not nearly as profitable as they once were.
But I would say there’s absolutely no reason for us to panic. For us authors, this is great! It’s only going to become EASIER to sell our books directly to our readers!
And we only need 1,000 readers to make a massive difference.
So, let’s change our goals around our own books so that we can lean into serving the people who resonate with our purpose and message.