Miscellaneous Weasel: Thoughts On Sales Numbers And Bifocals

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Book Weasel: 
When I first heard that Flex was at the printer, I set myself a “Fuck You, Ferrett” number.  I knew what an “average” book sold over the course of its lifetime, and I added 33% to that, and that was my “Fuck You, Ferrett” number.
That was the number where, if I sold that many copies of Flex, I would never ever ever be allowed to whine about its sales.
The thing is, I don’t actually know whether the “Fuck You, Ferrett” is a good number.  Book publishing is a kind of terrifying landscape if you’re a numbers-oriented person like I am, making it impossible to know where you stand. You know for sure if you’re a triple-A success – but a midlist or debut success is harder to measure.  Only a scant handful of authors actually reveal their sales numbers (Kameron Hurley being the most prominent), and they usually only do it when they’re successful.
So if you’re numbers-oriented, you try to gauge from other statistics.  Amazon Sales rank?  Too volatile.  Reviews?  Again, on Amazon they’re all over the map, and they rely heavily on who ya know.  (Flex is disproportionately reviewed.)  GoodReads numbers tell you something – for example, The Mechanical came out the same month that I did, and it has 1,200 reviews where I have 500. So it probably sold a lot better.  But it’s Ian Tregellis’ fifth novel, and does that matter?  He got George R.R. Martin to blurb him – does that matter?
Basically, whenever I think about sales, I can either feel like a proud debut novelist or a fraud of an underperformer, depending on who I’m comparing myself to and in what ways I slice the data that day.  And that’s exacerbated by the fact that yeah, authors rarely talk about that novel that only sold 500 copies.
The good news is that the “Fuck You, Ferrett” number is close.  We may nudge past it next week, when The Flux drops and Flex gets the inevitable sales boost.  So thanks to everyone who supported Flex, because that literally wouldn’t have happened without y’all talking about it.
The bad news – at least for me – is that when I get some firmer numbers in, I will do a Kameron Hurley post discussing how many books I sold.  And I have this depressing fear that I’ll reveal that number and people will go, “Aww, you went to all that fuss for that?” followed by a head-pat from people who write in Young Adult, where they have real sales.
But I’ve kind of made a history of revealing personal details and saying damn the consequences because I know for a fact that other people feel this way, and they deserve to know they’re not alone.  And I know that other authors also want data points, so that’s coming.
Hoo boy.
Bifocal Weasel:
I got bifocals last Friday, and it took me about four days to adjust.  I’m still not happy.  I thought bifocals would solve my close-up vision, but it turns out that for real close-up work – about six inches or closer – I’m better taking them off. And there’s still a lot of blur in my peripherals, which I’ve never really gotten used to.
As it turns out, with glasses, you lay back and let your eyeballs do the work.  Bifocals are a more active experience – you have to turn your head constantly, like an owl, to bring your gaze into the immobile focal spot.  I get lazy when reading, and let some of the words in the periph get blurred.  It’s basically more work, and it’s ironic that these are the old people glasses, because man, I’m mentally tracking this new step-count for my head.
But I see better on the whole.  It’s just odd.

1 Comment

  1. Flux
    Oct 7, 2015

    I’m not an author, so I have no idea what you’re going through as far as numbers and whether or not your work was worth it, but I enjoyed your book, and I’m super excited to get into Flux.

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