Do Not Measure Your Success in Book Sales

Many of you might be shaking your head wondering how I could possibly say this, but it’s true. Book sales, even in the best of economic climates, are sketchy and planning your success or failure around them is a very bad way to market your book. Here’s the reality: exposure = awareness = sales. The more exposure you get, the more awareness there is for the book, the more sales you may get. But this equation takes time and in the midst of this marketing many other really great non-book-sale-related things may happen. An example of this is an author who didn’t really sell a lot of her books as she was marketing, but found that her speaking gigs started to pick up. Each speaking gig netted her about fifty book sales, and because of the market she was in, many of those book sales turned into individual consulting gigs that brought in much more revenue than a single book sale ever could have. Get the picture?

The other reason I say this is because book sales can be tough to calculate, many reporting agencies don’t report sales for three to six months. I know this sounds crazy but it’s part of the reason why publishing is such a tricky business. So, if you’re doing a huge push in December and you look at your statement in January and find that you’ve only sold 3 books, it might be because you’re looking at sales figures from September or October when you weren’t doing any marketing at all.

Still not convinced? Then let me share my own story with you. As of today, Red Hot Internet Publicity has been out since July of 2009. I suspect to date it’s sold 5,000 or fewer copies. Not impressive, is it? Does that number bother me? Not at all. Want to know why? Because out of the copies sold I have probably brought twenty to thirty new authors on board who will likely be authors for life. Also, I got a teaching gig at NYU because someone handed someone at NYU this book and all of a sudden – there you have it. So if I measured my success by book sales, you bet I’d be depressed. Thank God I don’t. Book sales aren’t what drive my success. The same should be true for you. Start measuring your success in other ways and book sales will come. I promise.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., teaches self-publishing and social media marketing as an adjunct professor at NYU and is the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity. To learn about her books or her promotional services, including The Virtual Author Tour™, visit To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to


  1. says

    Career fiction authors, however, need to live by their book sales. This applies very well to non-fiction writers. For us, it’s the sales that have to matter.

  2. Lesley Galston says

    I felt this was written for me this morning. I have been so down to lack of sales, book has been published a month that it has put me off writing next 2 books, which is daft.
    Thank you for the inspiration and reminding me not to be so impatient. Any success in life takes time and dedication. So back to the drawing board and write more!
    Thank you.