When I released The Greatest Show on Dirt in February 2012, I had no idea whether to expect 20 sales or 20,000. Pipe dreams of crashing the New York Times bestseller list aside, publishing a book independently is a daunting proposition. In some ways, writing the book isn’t the hard part. It’s the marketing and doing the things that are required for potential readers to discover your book that make me feel the most helpless.
I was fortunate to receive some nice reviews and good publicity in a variety of places in the months after my book came out. Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News reviewed it as one of his 30 Baseball Books in 30 Days feature that April. The Raleigh News & Observer ran a nice Q&A interview on Easter Sunday. I did several other interviews, including a fun one in May when I watched a Durham Bulls game with Aaron Schoonmaker of WRALSportsFan.com when I visited North Carolina for a friend’s wedding.
Each time a story ran, I could see an immediate spike in sales. That is the beauty of self-publishing. Real-time numbers. It’s a curse as well, because one quickly becomes addicted to checking the figures. When they don’t budge for three or four days, it’s a challenge to shrug off the disappointment.
Slowly but surely, however, sales of The Greatest Show on Dirt have accumulated. This week they topped 800, which the realistic part of my brain appreciates as no small achievement. (I don’t have 800 friends and family members, so most of those purchases were by people I’ve never met.)
That breaks down as 537 ebooks and 263 paperback copies, just about a 2-to-1 ratio. Over the past 12 months, however, ebook sales have outstripped print sales by 4 1/2-to-1, which is more in line with what I’ve seen other authors describe for their sales. I suspect the catalyst there is Amazon’s “Customers who bought A also bought B” engine, which essentially rewards the hot hand, which in my case is the Kindle version.
I’ll be curious to see how the release this March of my new book, Nine Bucks a Pound, affects sales of the old one. I expect they’ll feed off each other, but it could take awhile for momentum to build. Early on it will likely be Dirt propping up the new book, though in time my guess is it will work the other way around. However it unfolds, I’m excited to see what the new year brings.