I just got an email from someone I don't know, telling me she loved Ashes to Water. Let's call her Extremely Intelligent Woman, or EIW for short. The email made my day, of course, and I was thrilled. I assumed EIW was a professional reviewer, someone to whom I'd sent the book.
EIW saw me on a four-minute television appearance on a local morning show, and actually bought the book on her own. She may very well be the first person to buy my book who is not a friend or relative. In other words...
POP THE CORK! I just sold my first book to a stranger!
This is big. The average unknown author sells maybe 300 books, a sad statistic I got from Publisher's Weekly. If an unknown author has an extended family that wraps the globe, perhaps 500 books will leave the distributor warehouse. In the circles I run with, anything more than that is considered a break-out.
Yesterday I learned from a librarian in Florida that she tried to order several of my books, but they were on 'back order.' To me, back order means that Victoria's Secret doesn't carry granny pants, so they have to order them special. But no, the librarian said it means "one or two things; one, the company only had a few copies and they sold them, or two, due to the high demand of the title, the books have sold out and are waiting to be replenished." Not to downplay this, but I suspect the explanation more closely resembles number one. But, either way, there're both good things.
Hey, Mom! An extremely intelligent woman bought my book! And I'm on back order!
Now for the part that has me putting this stranger on my Christmas list: she asked if I would be writing any more books with my two protagonists, Annie and Leigh. I told her yes, I had another book in mind, but did she know there was a prequel? And guess, just GUESS what she went and did.
She immediately went online and bought the prequel, Rules of the Lake. And while she was online, she posted a review for Ashes to Water. Sigh. I feel so...so...read.
All the time, you hear people say "Oh, I don't do this for the money. I do it for the readership." Whenever I hear this I nod politely and agree, because if you disagree, you're basically stupid. Really. Nobody makes money writing books except for the 2-5% who do. I'm not in that 2-5%, and the odds are, I never will be. Last week, I hit the wall with all the promoting I've been doing. I've been whining about it, too (so has my husband), wondering why I'm spending every waking moment in front of the computer, tweeting or friending or linking or blogging, trying to find a way to connect to would-be readers in a way that isn't obnoxious. I hate it when people constantly wave themselves in my face, and I don't want to do it to other people. So when an EIW sends an email out of the blue and says, "You were great [on TV] and my friend and I really felt as if we had known you for years," then truly,
there is nothing better than that. Because a readership is all a writer can ask for, and means everything once you get it.
Even if it's one stranger.
Who happens to be really, really smart.