22 Scars was officially released on October 28, 2017 (November 7 for the paperback). I didn’t publicize it, I didn’t do a launch event, and I didn’t really even tell anyone. It was just … there.
Since then, I’ve had a few sales trickle in—nothing major; I haven’t broken triple digits yet. Most have been digital downloads, although I’ve had a couple (literally a couple) of print sales, too. It’s been nice to see the little spikes indicating someone else has paid money for my work, but it doesn’t mean much in terms of revenue.
The thing that I find interesting, though, is to consider who’s actually been buying the book. Contrary to my expectations, I’ve had virtually no sales whatsoever through Amazon or Kindle Direct Publishing, which is where I’d have thought the majority of people would be looking to download a copy. Instead, pretty much every genuine sale I’ve had has been through Apple’s iBooks platform, distributed via Smashwords. I didn’t really think Apple was dominant in the book sales world, but I do work with around 100 people who I know would use it. Are these sales just my colleagues? I find it hard to find half my workforce would’ve been interested enough to actually pay money for my book.
And if it isn’t the people I work with, then who’s buying my book? If I had thousands, or even hundreds, of sales, I’d probably be less concerned—I’d know that I’d broken through to a point where the book was spreading organically through the reading world. I’m definitely not there yet, but at the same time, with the very little work I’ve put in, I’m surprised that I’ve had any sales at all.
As for readers … it’s certainly true that not everyone who buys a book actually ends up reading it. And from the reviews I’ve received, I know the vast majority of my readers have come through the book distribution website, voraciousreadersonly.com. There’s a part of me that’s still a little uneasy about paying for readers (even at only a few dollars a month), but at the end of the day it’s getting 22 Scars into the hands (or Kindles) of people who are actually quite likely to read it. I don’t personally mind if they do or don’t leave a review, despite it being encouraged, so long as I think the book is going to someone on whom it might leave a lasting impression.
And of course, there’s the chance that my sales are as a result of the readers from VRO telling their friends and family about the book. Maybe.
At the end of the day, all I can do is continue to promote and market my book as best I can, and hope that, somewhere down the line, it’ll turn profitable. I’m not in it for the money, but the readership matters to me. I want to know that my book is being read by people, and that it matters to them. That the story of teenage depression and abuse might ring true with someone out there. That maybe, just maybe, it might change a life.
Is that too much to ask?