Surefire guide to selling non fiction much better than I do
Slugs are winning the race against sales of my memoir. It’s engaging, well written and floats far out there in a vast ocean of reading material. Not unusual when you consider that 2.5 million titles are released worldwide each year.
Then consider I indie-published as a first-time author… and at a time when in-person bookstore events couldn’t take place. Thanks again, Covid. A grand total of nine Goodreads reviews praise The Incompetent Psychic with 45 stars. A few dozen more readers have written lovely emails and said nice things out loud. Kind friends count for a lot, but maybe not so much in the upper atmosphere of important reviews.
Okay, sales are sluggish. I asked Google, ‘Why is this?’ Up came a list of the 6 reasons people buy stuff. I barely squeaked into the last one.
Consider that non fiction books are just more stuff… manuals to teach short-cuts to satisfaction. This list of desires suggests that if you want to exploit the buying public for profit, write a surefire guide about how to land a mega-paying job and hire an entourage of gofers and bodyguards.
I wrote The Incompetent Psychic instead. Here’s how I missed the mark…
1) Desire for Financial Gain
I describe a forty-year career as a full time, freelance artist. I might as well have written, “Turn your back on this target before aiming at it.”
2) Fear of Financial Loss
Nope. You’ll need a different instructional manual for this fear — one I’m not qualified to write. All you get from my book are suggestions on ways to make fear bearable whilst shooting for a creative vocation. I did offer some tips on how to get over, through and around some other great big fears like, not being good enough, getting mocked and death.
3) Comfort & Convenience
I understand wanting a life that is the equivalent of sleeping on memory foam, but comfort and serenity are two different beasts. I didn’t shoot for a comfy book. Convenience suggests less work, more appliances and paid helpers— helpful advice I also didn’t offer.
4) Security & Protection
Once again, you’ll want a different book. My life was a series of hair-brand, dangerous and poorly thought out circus acts with safety nets of luck and magic. My stories can fit this desire only as a cautionary tale.
5) Pride of Ownership
If owning something that only a very few other people have gives you pride I can say this… a lot more people have Lamborghinis than own a copy of my book.
6) Satisfaction of Emotion
“Bits and parts [of your book] were emotionally satisfying and brought me some peace,” says the friend drinking coffee on my sunny summer deck this morning. Christine was a cop for 30 years and coats nothing in sugar. Praise without superfluous superlatives from a tough crime reader is high praise indeed.
Becoming emotionally satisfied is an inside job—one it took me decades to acquire. My journey probably won’t work for you. I’m clueless and often puzzled as to how anyone else becomes satisfied. I do know that laughter helps when life becomes maudlin and absurd. Another friend said, “I’ve never chuckled out loud while reading a Table of Contents before,” so that’s something.
How I eventually overcame dissatisfaction: Wise and funny friends, luck, magic and good dogs. Also, vitamin D and kelp capsules work wonders to improve thyroid happy juice secretions. Melatonin, ibuprofen and strict hall monitors for bad thoughts take care of the rest.
Oh great. I just gave it all away. Now you don’t need to buy another book, either.