With that said, I realize I need to keep my expectations low since approximately one half million to one million books are published annually. Only a small number of those become successful each year. I’m talking a few dozen at most. A large percentage of those are because the authors are already famous – think J.K. Rowling, Hemingway, Crichton, Grisham, etc. For those who weren’t famous before they wrote their book, some percentage of them were purely lucky (i.e. Oprah decided to mention them in her show) and the balance did it through an incredible amount of hard work. I unfortunately fit into the latter group.
So, if only a few books out of a million are truly going to be best sellers and sell more than a few hundred copies in total (yes, that is the average number of books sold per newly published books), I am going to need to work my tail off trying to promote the book, reaching out to local and national media outlets, linking with all sorts of trekking/hiking/camping/outdoors sites, leveraging my social networks and much, much more.
I put a game plan together for The Trek over the summer while it was being digitally converted and while the cover was being designed. I think it’s very comprehensive. Yet, I knew going into it that it would still be a major challenge. And even though I knew this in advance, maybe I wasn’t being as realistic as I should have been.
I admire the effort and, believe me, understand the joy of the process. I assume you know I tried doing this in earnest in the 90’s when (LARGE PUBLISHER) published my book. But this is the cold, hard reality - there is no one who cares even a tiny, tiny fraction about the book the way you do and it’s almost impossible to get folks to put in even an iota of effort to help you get publicity or traction on it. I always thought of it like I did with one of my kids. Sure people “care” about your kids and how they are doing and all that. But the real truth is that people have their own worries and interests and cares and at the end of the day, people show interest in how your kids are doing simply to be courteous. So for you own sanity, I caution you to expect nothing from anyone with regard to the work you spent thousands of hours on and care so much about. I know this is harsh, but it’s the honest truth from someone who has lived it and was so disappointed that no one gave one rat’s ass about the baby I spent years nurturing and perfecting. This was even true for the people at (PUBLISHER) who paid me a large advance on a book that also had a movie option. It was just another widget in their factory line. Now, having said that, I hope your book is WILDLY successful and you prove me dead wrong.
This note (although you may not agree with everything he said - particularly the stuff about "your kids") was the perfect advice I needed to receive since it will help keep me very, very grounded. The simple truth is I never expected to make a living from the book. It was something I’ve wanted to do for many years. It’s done now. That said, it would be foolish to not spend a month or two (or more?) trying to promote it now that it’s published.
The good news is that a few people have already finished reading the book and have had great things to say about it...even people that aren't my "friends":) My only real goal when starting this process and writing the book was to tell a good story. I think so many books (and even movies) go absolutely nowhere and leave the reader upset. I never expected the book to be a prize-winner, but I always hoped I would entertain people for a few hours and take them away on a journey (pun intended) for a little while, so that they could forget about their daily problems. If I have accomplished this, then I will consider myself successful. If I sell lots of books in the process, then all the better. But I’m certainly not counting on it. Self-publishing The Trek was a great learning experience. I'm happy I did it. I hope you'll read the book and find it as enjoyable as I